Fury over plan to ‘pri­ori­tise’ help for crime vic­tims who have English as 2nd lan­guage

Daily Mail - - FRONT PAGE - By Ian Drury and Chris Green­wood

CRIME vic­tims may not get a visit from the po­lice if they speak good English, a se­nior of­fi­cer sug­gested last night.

The sec­ond-in-com­mand of the coun­try’s big­gest force said call­ers could be re­fused a visit from an of­fi­cer un­less they were con­sid­ered suf­fi­ciently ‘vul­ner­a­ble’.

Craig Mackey said vic­tims pri­ori­tised for a ‘ face- to- face ser­vice’ could in­clude peo­ple for whom English was a sec­ond lan­guage.

He sug­gested that peo­ple with learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties and the el­derly would also be pri­ori­tised. His com­ments raised con­cerns that the mid­dle-aged and those speak­ing good English might be pushed to the back of the queue. And they fol­low claims that po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness is tak­ing over mod­ern polic­ing, with re­sponses de­ter­mined by a tick-box cul­ture – deny­ing some of the pop­u­la­tion a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Last night, MPs and cam­paign groups hit out at Mr Mackey’s ‘ut­terly bonkers’ and ‘very strange’ pro­pos­als.

They said po­lice should re­spond ac­cord­ing to the seriousness of an of­fence, not the per­sonal cir­cum­stances of the vic­tim.

Mr Mackey, Scot­land Yard’s deputy com­mis­sioner, said vic­tims of crimes such as car theft might not re­ceive a face-to-face visit from of­fi­cers in fu­ture

un­less they were deemed to need one un­der a new ‘triage’ sys­tem.

He said the method was an ‘ ab­so­lutely fea­si­ble’ way to help the force cope fol­low­ing deep fund­ing cuts. Ac­knowl­edg­ing it was a ‘dif­fi­cult area’, he said: ‘Do you al­ways of­fer the same ser­vice to ev­ery­one?

‘In­creas­ingly, as we go for­ward we will look at things like try­ing to as­sess peo­ple and crime on the sort of the threat, the harm, the risk, and peo­ple’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

‘It’s ab­so­lutely fea­si­ble as we go for­ward that if my neigh­bour is a vul­ner­a­ble el­derly per­son who has ex­pe­ri­enced a par­tic­u­lar type of crime, that she gets a face-to-face ser­vice that I don’t get. So we triage things... we as­sess peo­ple’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

‘Vul­ner­a­bil­ity can man­i­fest it­self in a num­ber of ways: peo­ple with learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, a whole range of things, some peo­ple for whom English isn’t a first lan­guage.’

But Tory MP Peter Bone said: ‘This is a very strange idea. It’s wrong. Vic­tims of crime should get a proper ser­vice from the po­lice. Surely the level of re­sponse should be re­lated to the type of crime, not whether a per­son doesn’t speak English or is vul­ner­a­ble?

‘If some­body re­ports a crime, to say “Hang on, you’re a white, mid­dle-aged man, we’ll not come out” is com­pletely wrong.’

Lib­eral Demo­crat MP Jamie Stone added: ‘It’s ut­terly bonkers to sug­gest that vic­tims of crime shouldn’t re­ceive a po­lice visit just be­cause they’re not “vul­ner­a­ble” enough.

‘Surely choos­ing who to pri­ori­tise should be based on the sever­ity of a crime, not the vic­tim’s age or whether their first lan­guage isn’t English.’

Peter Cuth­bert­son, di­rec­tor of the Cen­tre For Crime Pre­ven­tion think-tank, said: ‘When you have pro­lific crim­i­nals com­mit­ting dozens of crimes each month, the pri­or­ity is putting them away to pro­tect the public.

‘It misses the point to con­cen­trate ef­fort on only some vic­tims. It’s the same peo­ple who are a threat to the vul­ner­a­ble and less vul­ner­a­ble alike. This could go very wrong very quickly. It’s deeply wor­ry­ing if po­lice are even con­sid­er­ing treat­ing peo­ple who bother to learn flu­ent English worse than some­one who doesn’t make the ef­fort. Why re­ward peo­ple who refuse to in­te­grate?’

Crim­i­nol­o­gist Dr David Green said: ‘Re­duc­tions in spend­ing on the po­lice im­posed by the Gov­ern­ment, and the in­evitable fall in the num­ber of po­lice of­fi­cers, is now start­ing to cut into the core ser­vice.

‘The po­lice are be­ing forced to choose pri­or­i­ties and ap­pear to be de­part­ing from the el­e­men­tary prin­ci­ple that we are all equally en­ti­tled to ser­vice.’ Mr Mackey used an in­ter­view with the Evening Stan­dard to set out how the Met could cope with a fall in money. Over the past four years, the force has made £600 mil­lion of cuts as part of aus­ter­ity, and faces mak­ing an ex­tra £400 m in sav­ings by 2020.

Mr Mackey’s com­ments re­flect the grow­ing mood among po­lice chiefs that ‘some­thing has to give’ among front­line polic­ing. Many feel cuts to public spend­ing has left them strug­gling to pro­vide the ser­vices mil­lions of peo­ple ex­pect, even though some forms of crime are soar­ing.

In 2015, for­mer Thames Val­ley chief Sara Thorn­ton sparked fury by say­ing bur­glary vic­tims should no longer ex­pect po­lice to turn up at their door. In the same year, it was re­vealed that Le­ices­ter­shire Po­lice were re­fus­ing to in­ves­ti­gate at­tempted bur­glar­ies if the vic­tims lived in a house with an odd num­ber.

A Home Of­fice spokesman said: ‘ Ev­ery vic­tim of crime de­serves a good ser­vice from the po­lice, re­gard­less of their cir­cum­stances. We ex­pect the crimes re­ported to them to be taken se­ri­ously. This Gov­ern­ment has pro­tected over­all po­lice spend­ing in real terms in a fair fund­ing deal and why we are cur­rently en­gag­ing with forces about the de­mands they are fac­ing.’

A Met Po­lice spokesman said: ‘Safe­guard­ing the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in so­ci­ety, while tack­ling and dis­rupt­ing crime and bring­ing of­fend­ers to jus­tice, will al­ways re­main our pri­or­ity.’

‘This could go very wrong very quickly’

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