POLICE: WE MAY NOT COME OUT IF YOU SPEAK ENGLISH
Fury over plan to ‘prioritise’ help for crime victims who have English as 2nd language
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’