The Telegraph reports today that Norfolk Police are refusing to investigate one in four crimes. Unless there is a realistic prospect of catching someone, they will now decline to attend reports. The reports says that car crime, vandalism & thefts from outhouses will go largely uninvestigated.
I’m surprised this is news, I thought it was standard practice, to be honest. We stopped attending all crimes years ago. Most crime investigation goes along the lines of;
- crime is reported
- police officer turns up at some stage
- police officer asks if victim knows who did it, victim usually says no
- police officer asks neighbours if they know who did it, they normally say no.
- police officer notes that the incident wasn’t recorded on CCTV anywhere
- police officer makes report of crime & says he doesn’t know who did it either
- nothing else happens
We now don’t attend most crimes. There are some we always attend, even if it is several days later (as it often is). We attend all burglaries & assaults. We won’t attend thefts where there isn’t a named offender; you could lose some seriously expensive stuff – many, many thousands of pounds worth & we ain’t interested (but if you tell an ethnic minority to go back home, we’ll be round like a shot.)
We don’t attend damage or graffiti (unless it’s racist), we don’t attend most credit card fraud (we get the banks to report it, they rarely do, the stats must look really good these days).
We don’t do all this despite the fact that we have more police officers than we’ve had in history & in theory could attend every report of a crime within 15 minutes, guaranteed, if only all those officers were working on the front line.
In all the thousands & thousands of times I’ve done house to house enquiries after the fact, I can’t think of a single occasion where someone said, “Oh yeah, I saw it all, Jimmy Shit from down the road did it”.
Personally, even though most crime investigation is really a waste of time, I think it’s shocking that we don’t attend most crimes. If there is one thing we could do to boost the image of the police & make people feel a little better about their loss, it would be to actually turn up.
I think the reason we don’t attend is to make the crime figures better, after all, how many people must there be who have had a crime & said ‘well I don’t bother reporting it because the police never do anything, there’s no point’? There must be millions. (Actually, I have no idea, but it supports my argument better if we accept there are loads of unreported crimes)