Pub­lic has given up on po­lice, says watch­dog

Fail­ure to in­ves­ti­gate crimes has eroded trust, HM In­spec­torate of Con­stab­u­lary warns

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Charles Hy­mas Home af­fairs edi­tor

THE pub­lic has given up on the po­lice solv­ing crimes, an of­fi­cial re­port claims to­day, as it says of­fi­cers have been “rum­bled” for fail­ing to in­ves­ti­gate of­fences in­clud­ing bur­glary and theft.

Matt Parr, HM In­spec­tor of Con­stab­u­lary, said the fail­ure of the po­lice to in­ves­ti­gate high-vol­ume crimes such as car theft, mi­nor as­sault and bur­glary was hav­ing a “cor­ro­sive” ef­fect on the pub­lic’s trust in the po­lice.

His com­ments fol­low a se­ries of in­ves­ti­ga­tions by The Daily Tele­graph re­veal­ing car thefts and bur­glar­ies were not be­ing pur­sued. The re­port re­veals that vic­tims are los­ing faith and pulling out of pros­e­cu­tions across nearly all crimes. It also shows the pro­por­tion of of­fences solved plum­meted from 14 per cent in 2015 to 7.3 per cent in 2019.

“I think these lev­els of vol­ume crime res­o­lu­tion are cor­ro­sive for the longterm re­la­tion­ship be­tween the pub­lic and po­lice,” said Mr Parr as he noted the pro­por­tion of crimes closed be­cause the vic­tim did not sup­port a pros­e­cu­tion had risen to 22.6 per cent in 2019 from 8.7 per cent in 2015.

“If you are the vic­tim of a mi­nor bur­glary or mi­nor as­sault or car crime, I think peo­ple have now got to the stage where their ex­pec­ta­tions are low and the po­lice live down to those ex­pec­ta­tions be­cause they sim­ply don’t have the ca­pac­ity to deal with it.

“There are some wor­ry­ing trends. Do­mes­tic abuse and sex­ual as­sault, where vic­tims are no longer sup­port­ing the pros­e­cu­tion, is a more com­plex and wor­ry­ing is­sue.

“But I think par­tic­u­larly in the vol­ume crime area, the pub­lic has rum­bled that the po­lice ca­pac­ity to deal with this is ex­tremely lim­ited.

“There are strik­ingly low fig­ures about car crime res­o­lu­tion, mean­ing most of the pub­lic sim­ply give up re­port­ing it be­cause the chances of any­thing pos­i­tive hap­pen­ing are so slim.” Last night the Home Of­fice warned po­lice forces to “take ac­tion” to re­store the pub­lic’s trust. A spokesman said: “In ar­eas where ser­vices are not up to scratch we ex­pect po­lice to take ac­tion and im­ple­ment the In­spec­torate’s rec­om­men­da­tions at pace.”

The Tele­graph re­vealed last month the chances of po­lice catch­ing and suc­cess­fully pros­e­cut­ing car thieves had fallen al­most five-fold in two years, with only one in 400 re­sult­ing in con­vic­tion.

A fort­night ago it re­vealed that four forces had not charged any thieves in the three months to Septem­ber 2019, as the chances na­tion­ally of a theft re­sult­ing in a charge halved from 10.8 per cent in 2015 to 5.4 per cent, and from 2.6 per cent to 1.3 per cent for per­sonal theft.

The In­spec­torate warned that crime vic­tims also faced un­ac­cept­ably wide vari­a­tions in their ex­pe­ri­ence of how the po­lice dealt with their crime, de­pend­ing on where they lived. Anal­y­sis of 13 forces showed the pro­por­tion of crime re­sult­ing in po­lice ac­tion ranged from 10 per cent in West Yorks and Cambs to 20 per cent in Der­bys.

The num­ber re­fus­ing to sup­port a pros­e­cu­tion spanned 15 per cent in Der­bys to 31 per cent in Devon and Corn­wall. Cleve­land, Northants, War­wicks and West Mer­cia – which were not in the 13 – were iden­ti­fied by in­spec­tors as the worst per­form­ing.

Charg­ing rates for do­mes­tic abuse ranged from 12 per cent in Devon and Corn­wall and Staffs to 28 per cent in Der­bys, while the pro­por­tion of vic­tims re­fus­ing to sup­port a pros­e­cu­tion was over 50 per cent in half the 13 forces.

The Tele­graph re­vealed last week­end that the pro­por­tion of vic­tims pulling out of in­ves­ti­ga­tions had dou­bled over all crimes since 2015 to 43.3 per cent for vi­o­lence, 40.5 for rape, 32.2 for pub­lic or­der of­fences and 16.4 for rob­bery.

The In­spec­torate blamed in­ex­pe­ri­enced of­fi­cers who lacked the “ap­pro­pri­ate” de­tect­ing skills be­ing handed in­ves­ti­ga­tions and then strug­gling

be­cause of poor su­per­vi­sion and sup­port. “In­ves­ti­ga­tors may not fol­low all lines of in­quiry and ev­i­dence may be lost. For a vic­tim, this means a longer wait to see if there will be jus­tice in their case, and less like­li­hood of there be­ing any jus­tice,” said the in­spec­tors.

“This can in­crease dis­tress and lead to a loss of faith in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. It can mean vic­tims with­draw from the jus­tice process al­to­gether.”

The in­spec­tors said three forces had such lim­ited in­ves­tiga­tive ca­pac­ity that it was a “cause of con­cern.” The re­port warned that the Gov­ern­ment’s plans to re­cruit an ex­tra 20,000 po­lice of­fi­cers would not solve all of the prob­lems as re­cruit­ment would most likely ben­e­fit ef­fi­cient forces that iden­ti­fied the skills they needed. “Gain­ing more of­fi­cers will only mask poor per­for­mance if forces are un­able to ef­fec­tively match re­sources to de­mand,” the re­port said.

“On its own, the in­crease in po­lice num­bers will not bring about the trans­for­ma­tion in ser­vice and per­for­mance some forces need to achieve.”

Martin Hewitt, of the Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs’ Coun­cil, said that the po­lice pri­or­ity was to en­sure that vic­tims had the con­fi­dence to re­port crimes.

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