September 26th, 2009

To be or not to be

Posted in The Job - General by 200

How far should the police go to try & stop someone being a victim of crime & how much responsibility does the individual have, or is it all gthe fault of the thief when something gets nicked.

When I posted about police taking stuff out of unlocked cars to stop it being nicked & make the owner collect it from the nick, I got some posts which summed up were complaints about state interference with private property.

Si it probably won’t go down too well with critics that South Yorkshire Police are threatening to inform insurance companies if  people leave valuables on display in their cars.

Local PCSOs handed out notices to hundreds of motorists parking in Doncaster town centre recently. Part of the notice read: “If items are on view a form is submitted for action stating your vehicle was left in a vulnerable state. This form can then be forwarded to your insurance company for their actions. This can result in your premiums going up or potentially your company refusing to pay out should a break-in to your vehicle occur.”

The RAC Foundation said: “This is an outrageous letter. Criminals commit car crimes, not honest motorists. The vast majority of drivers make sure their vehicles provide slim pickings for thieves, but we all make mistakes and there are times when something will be left on display.

“For the police to scare motorists with the threat of having their insurance invalidated is at best ill-judged and at worst a dereliction of duty. Since when is it a crime to leave something in your car? A friendly warning would be more than adequate.

“The police should remember exactly what their role is – to catch criminals and protect the public.

So, what do we think. It’s crime prevention so it’s fair game or a step too far?

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  1. Tom Gane says:

    I am very uncomfortable making a comment about this post.

    Home insurance can be invalidated by the householder in a number of ways. It might be that the homeowner is storing products or materials, which are prohibited, or construed as dangerous. Likewise, the manner in which the property is used might have an impact should a claim be made or the householder negligent.

    You might then use the same test for your car. However, we rely on police to prevent, investigate and deal with crime, but if we are, by omission in our actions encouraging crime perhaps it is not a bad thing after all. Of course we would hope that resources could protect our property, but in the real world, the onus has fallen to us.

    This is broken UK in the 21st Century I’m afraid, sad though it is.

    September 26th, 2009 at 21:05

  2. kjb says:

    I think rights are generally balanced with responsibilities. To ask police to save the day after being irresponsible is ridiculous. I think police resources will be much better used if dealing with “provoked” theft, and I’m not sure how people could disagree with this. If people want a world that is so safe they can leave valuables out in the open in their cars, they need to be ready to pay for a lot more police on the streets and/or all the rest that would be required for this.

    I guess people need to learn to not leave things out in the open. Not that tricky, is it?

    September 26th, 2009 at 21:54

  3. boy on a bike says:

    I grew up in a country town that had about 10,000 residents at that time. No one locked their doors, or their cars. You could park your car in the main street with the windows down and the keys in the ignition and never worry about anything being nicked.

    Shoplifting was incredibly rare – I remember people being shocked and scandalised when someone was charged with it. It just didn’t happen. If kids like me wanted something, we earned our own money by mowing lawns or doing a paper route – not stealing stuff from someone else. People did not feel tempted to take something just because if was there for the taking.

    What it demonstrates more than anything else is the lack of self control that has developed in a certain segment of our population, and the lack of respect that they have for the property rights of others.

    September 26th, 2009 at 22:27

  4. copper bottom says:

    nice idea- but I think that sometimes we forget that, although the law is the ultimate servant, its ordinary members of the public that would be caused upset by this …

    they are the ones that:

    1. pay our wages….
    2. give us support (err…)
    3. give us intel etc…

    this could alienate them big time…

    September 26th, 2009 at 23:06

  5. Oi says:

    I think the RAC spokesman has the right of it.
    Everyone inadverdantly leaves something on display sometime.
    Did it myself the other day! [embarrassed blush] Fortunately the satchel containing my wallet and personal papers that was lying on the front passenger seat, was still there and untouched when I returned to my vehicle some hours later.

    September 27th, 2009 at 00:11

  6. Jabadaw says:

    Why be surprised at this type of nonsense? It appears to me that with every passing day some senior officer (it’s usually them) seem to have forgotten the reason that the police are here in the first place. Witness this Superintendent of the Leicestershire police and his grasp and understanding of the law.–hooligans-councils-problem-says-police-officer.html

    It almost makes me ashamed to be a boy in blue. (Only much less of one as the years advance and ravage my body).

    September 27th, 2009 at 00:22

  7. Tony F says:

    Just a thought,

    In Saudia, we used to leave the cars unlocked, and we knew that they would not be touched (except sometimes they would be cleaned for us in the hope of the odd ‘blat’) nothing was ever taken either. And no, we were not ‘lucky’ it just did not happen.

    September 27th, 2009 at 02:11

  8. SoCal says:

    The article linked by Jabadaw had a lot of eye-opening statements in it, but this one really caught my attention:

    “The policeman replied: ‘From a police point of view, what we want to do with any criminals is to prevent re-offending. From my personal experience, if a juvenile goes in to detention, they are likely to mix with like-minded people during their time there and they are more likely to reoffend.’ ”

    It seems to me that when one is dealing with young hooligan-types, they’re *already* mixing with like-minded people. All the gang problems and all the rest exist outside detention, not just inside. The unfortunate mother and daughter were hounded by a gang of “like-minded” thugs, some as young as ten, apparently. Ten year olds who have now learned that there are no negative repercussions for unacceptable behavior.

    September 27th, 2009 at 09:50

  9. Steve (Former DC with West Mids) says:

    I only hope the PCSO’s didn’t compound the problem by leaving “vulnerable” notes on windscreens!

    What a p*ss poor use of resources.

    If a motorist is seen leaving a vehicle and contents vulnerable, then fine point it out. That’s helpful, preventative & can only foster good relationships (with the sane members of society).

    Handing out leaflets with a veiled threat that such a mistake may invalidate your insurance would have the opposite effect, and worsen public confidence and support still further. Copper bottom is right.

    Police resource is misallocated and stretched as it is, without over-the-top activity like this that could surely be put to better use.

    With the best of intentions maybe, the idea wasn’t well thought through. I’m guessing it originated from a desk jockey.

    Having worked closely with insurance companies for the last 15 years, I see perfectly reasonable claims that are neither fraudulent or negligent, being invalidated every day at a growing rate. Letters like this in Doncaster are an absolute gift to an insurer, yet another get out of jail card for them to avoid payment.

    Insurance is intended for those occasions when we make a mistake or have an accident, but don’t get me on that subject…. there is nearly as much bureaucracy, arse protection and number fudging than in the job, just to avoid meeting their obligation to your policy.

    Prevent crime thats what is expected.
    Punish the victim, that’s sticking the boot in when they’re down.

    September 27th, 2009 at 10:36

  10. Dr Melvin T Gray says:


    (content of comment removed by blog owner)

    September 27th, 2009 at 15:25

  11. 200 says:

    Dr Melvin T Gray

    go stick your head up a dead bear’s arse & don’t use my blog for your own pathetic purposes, you knob

    September 27th, 2009 at 17:02

  12. Tony F says:


    September 27th, 2009 at 18:28

  13. Blue Eyes says:

    I don’t think it’s a very good idea for officers to cause individual car owners “punishment” at the hands of their insurance companies. If there is a problem with stuff getting nicked from particular areas why not put a sign up or do a campaign. There are so much better ways to inform people of the dangers of leaving valuables on show.

    September 27th, 2009 at 18:46

  14. Jabadaw says:

    What is is with this fool from Shudders field?

    September 27th, 2009 at 19:27

  15. PC A HUNN says:

    Its a simple case of the local SMT being worried about their fat bonus if the crime figures go up due to people carelessly leaving property on show. So their solution is to punish the victim or potential victim rather than dealing with the offender which is much much harder and more expensive. They could not really give a monkies about the poor sod who gets his car broken into they are just bothered about the undetected crime that will be recorded.

    This has happened in all Government organisations. Going for the soft target / easy option and punish the hard working, tax paying masses who will not be able to fight back as they have Jobs they could lose and are not entitled to free legal representation.

    The only solution is to vote out this useless Government and pray that the next lot are not as obsessed with bean counting.. Though something tells me that will never happen.

    September 27th, 2009 at 19:28

  16. Withheld says:

    My feeling is that theft is purely the fault of the thief.
    I have walked past unlocked cars and houses and never stolen from them.
    Surely to put any blame on the property owner is akin to blaming a woman for being raped due to being attractive.
    As an adult I know that if I see goods unattended (as I did just a few days ago, in Germany as it happens) they are still not mine. Anybody who feels otherwise is IMHO a toerag.

    September 27th, 2009 at 19:41

  17. Withheld says:

    Just realised that I missed the second part of the debate – is it the responsibility of the police to catch all these people?
    Two ways to look at this; 1) a crime has been committed and needs clearing up. 2) What’s the point until thieves get removed from circulation?
    If 2) was adopted by means of proper prison sentences then 1) would be unnecessary. I accept that this is not the fault of the police.

    September 27th, 2009 at 19:44

  18. MarkUK says:

    Jabadaw is so right. In the case of the poor woman driven to distraction, these were no minor offences. For a start there was criminal damage (stones through windows). Then there was the small matter of kidnapping someone at knifepoint (even if it was to his mother’s shed).

    How serious do crimes have to be before Leics police superintendants think they are worth bothering with? Would ABH fit the bill, or is that another matter for the council? Does it have to get to malicious wounding before the super is interested?

    I bet if a yob kicked his car, the full panoply of the law would decend on the youth.

    September 27th, 2009 at 21:07

  19. MarkUK says:

    Meant to say that it’s about time one or two people told “Dr” Grey where to go.

    September 27th, 2009 at 21:08

  20. bill says:

    Tony F.

    You’re right about Saudi. I worked there for several years and never had anything nicked.

    I put this down to the fact that Saudi prisons are really scary (I know this because I was a visitor – a VISITOR!!!). Repeat offenders are taken to Chop Square after Friday morning prayers and are relieved of a hand. If that don’t learn ‘em, then they lose a leg.

    In the UK, thieves get a slap on the wrist (minus scalpel).

    End of story.

    September 28th, 2009 at 00:12

  21. Paperchaser says:

    I agree with most of the commenters, who feel the thief’s responsibility is a little more at issue.

    I’d also like to point out that as the UK police force are concerned with “crime prevention” (though I’d argue that in properly functioning countries where tax revenue is redistributed by governments with higher collective IQs than a gibbon troop, it’s parents and schools and society in general that prevent crime, and police who investigate it), having the police force appear to be BLATANTLY in league with litigious, contract-abrogating insurance companies is goddamn stupid.

    September 28th, 2009 at 09:39

  22. copper bottom says:

    yes- my mate worked in Saudi- he used to leave his hire car on the drive – windows down- computer equipment on the seat- no theft…

    if you survive the arrest… their prisons are pretty harsh… 10-years is a life sentence…

    lol… good!

    seriously- it does raise a point- when does the individual right rise above the good of all?

    is it better to be mega harsh and have a safe society – or have namby-pamby punishments and a scared society?


    September 28th, 2009 at 10:11

  23. boy on a bike says:

    I bothered to wade through a report on juvenile justice in NSW last week and found this statistic about young crims:

    Question – How often does young person hang out with friends who have been in trouble with the police?

    Answer – Sometimes/often/always – 83.2%.

    So you don’t need to lock them up for them to come into contact with other scrotes, lowlifes and bottom feeders. They’re already associating with them every day. Show me a crim whose first contact with other crims is when they get banged up, and I’ll take you home and introduce you to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

    September 28th, 2009 at 11:24

  24. Jabadaw says:

    Have a lot of people from South Yorkshire recently been working/living in Saudi Arabia? Could that explain why they leave valuables on display in their car?

    September 28th, 2009 at 12:32

  25. rafanon says:

    If I was a burglar type and was canvassing vehicles for booty then a big notice telling me there are valuables in a particular vehicle would make my day far more lucrative!

    September 30th, 2009 at 13:26

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