‘PO­LICE DON’T CARE ABOUT CLAS­SIC CRIME’

Slashed bud­gets mean spe­cial­ist ve­hi­cle crime units have been dis­banded

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Front Page - Mur­ray Scul­lion

Cuts made to po­lice Stolen Ve­hi­cle Units (SVUs) are di­rectly linked to dra­matic in­creases in ve­hi­cle theft, ex­perts have claimed.

One anony­mous po­lice of­fi­cer says: ‘There are no ded­i­cated units cater­ing for clas­sic cars any­more. No-one cares about clas­sic car crime in the po­lice.’

Justin Pow­ell, pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Auto Theft In­ves­ti­ga­tors (IAATI), says: ‘ Ve­hi­cle thefts are al­ready in­creas­ing and the in­evitable re­sult of cut­ting more SVUs will be a widen­ing of the gaps in po­lice knowl­edge and skills.

‘Thefts of clas­sic and mod­ern clas­sics, such as Ford Es­corts and Land Rover De­fend­ers, are in­creas­ing and it usu­ally in­volves or­gan­ised crim­i­nal gangs.’

Ac­cord­ing to the IAATI, spe­cial­ist units have been lost across the UK due to fi­nan­cial cut­backs and amal­ga­ma­tions.

Shock­ing data re­leased by in­de­pen­dent car crime in­ves­ti­ga­tors has linked an in­crease in thefts with cuts be­ing made to the po­lice’s Stolen Ve­hi­cle Units (SVUs).

More than 81,000 ve­hi­cles were stolen last year in the UK, in­creas­ing year-on-year by 8%. The num­ber of at­tempted thefts shot up by more than a third.

Justin Pow­ell, pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Auto Theft In­ves­ti­ga­tors (IAATI), says: ‘Ve­hi­cle thefts are al­ready in­creas­ing and the in­evitable re­sult of cut­ting more SVUs will be a widen­ing the gaps in po­lice knowl­edge and skills.

‘Thefts of clas­sic and mod­ern clas­sics, such as Ford Es­corts and Land Rover De­fend­ers are in­creas­ing and it usu­ally in­volves or­gan­ised crim­i­nal gangs.’

Ac­cord­ing to the IAATI, spe­cial­ist units have been lost across the UK due to fi­nan­cial cut­backs and amal­ga­ma­tions. One ex­am­ple of this is at New Scot­land Yard. Its Stolen Ve­hi­cle Unit has been slashed from a 30-per­son squad in the 1990s to less than 10 in 2016. A po­lice of­fi­cer work­ing closely with car crime who wishes to re­main anony­mous tells CCW: ‘There’s no ded­i­cated units cater­ing for clas­sic cars any­more. No one cares about clas­sic car crime in the po­lice. The Home Of­fice has only re­alised there’s a prob­lem now – and it’s far too late.’

Dr Ken Ger­man, for­mer Stolen Ve­hi­cle Squad boss at the Met says: ‘The Met po­lice are ex­cel­lent at what they do, and they’re multi-tal­ented. But Land Rover De­fender thefts are up by a stag­ger­ing 75% on last year across the UK, and thefts of other clas­sics are also up. It ap­pears there isn’t an area of ve­hi­cle crime that isn’t un­der­go­ing a resur­gence this year.’

Justin Pow­ell also thinks that there’s a wider prob­lem with clas­sic car thefts, in that they can be used to fund more se­ri­ous of­fences. He says: ‘It is a key en­abler of other se­ri­ous crimes, in­clud­ing ter­ror­ism.’

How­ever, Lucy Hall, com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer for the Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs’ Coun­cil says this is not an im­por­tant is­sue for po­lice: ‘I’m afraid that this isn’t an is­sue that has been flagged to us.’

Po­lice Stolen Ve­hi­cle Units have been closed or shrunk. And guess what? Ve­hi­cle thefts are on the in­crease…

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