Friday, November 16, 2007
Crime rate dropping because they are not recorded - the marvels of demockracy.
Official: Police leave 2m crimes uninvestigated
Last Updated: 4:11am GMT 11/11/2007 Police are refusing to investigate more than two million reported crimes every year, including huge numbers of burglaries and thefts, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.
Almost four out of 10 offences are "screened out" as unsolvable within hours of being reported to police, and the cases are closed.
No officer visits the scene of the crime and no attemptis made to catch the culprit.
As many as two-thirds of burglaries are not investigated in some areas, according to police figures. Even robberies and violent crimes can be screened out, while other cases involve fraud, theft and vandalism.
Among 12 English and Scottish forces which released figures underFreedom of Information laws, 788,000 crimes were screened out last yearfrom a total of 2,029,000 recorded offences - a rate of 39 per cent. The findings suggest that out of six million offences reported to forces in the UK last year, around 2.3 million were not investigated.
David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said: "So-called screening can have the effect of making some crimes in effect risk-free for criminals. "It is critical that this technique is not driven either by Government targets or in an attempt to manipulate the crime figures."
Norman Brennan, the chairman of the Victims of Crime Trust and a serving police officer, said: "The sad reality is that police numbers have not kept pace with the huge rise in crime across the spectrum. "The public are our masters and have a right to know why we don't turn up to every call and investigate every crime."
Serious crimes such as murder, wounding or rape are always investigated, (NWN: Oh no they are not ! ) as are crimes where there is a named suspect or obvious forensic evidence.
A decision not to pursue a case may be taken by a civilian police employee, under the supervision of an officer, following a conversation with the victim over the telephone or at the front counter of a police station.
But screened-out offences are still counted in official crime figures, and victims are issued with reference numbers for insurance purposes. Police chiefs defend the system as a way to target resources on the most serious and solvable crimes. They insist that all crimes are"investigated" to some degree, even if this amounts to no more than a telephone conversation.
However, critics claim that the public will lose faith in the police if officers stop attending crime scenes and hunting for criminals.
Among forces which provided figures, the highest rate of screening out was by the Metropolitan Police, with 53 per cent of reported offences dealt with in this way.
Out of 97,000 burglaries in the capital, 64,000 were not investigated.
The overall figure was 37 per cent in Cambridgeshire, 36 per cent inHumberside and 33 per cent in Hampshire and Norfolk.
The lowest figurewas 10 per cent by Lothian and Borders police.
Explaining the policy, Helen King, the assistant chief constable ofMerseyside, where 31 per cent of crimes screened out last year, said:"Each crime reported to Merseyside Police is treated seriously and subject to an initial investigation. "Opportunities for detecting that crime are examined at this stage.These include forensic opportunities, CCTV footage and witnesses. "Where there are solvability factors, an officer or crime scene investigator will attend and carry out an investigation. "In cases where those factors are not present and it does not fall into a more serious category of crime the crime will be 'screenedout. Should further information come to light, the investigation willbe reopened."
Among forces which did not release figures, some admitted that they screen out some crimes but do not keep a count of how many. Others claimed not to operate a screening system but nevertheless admitted that they regularly close cases without sending officers to investigate.
Scotland Yard admitted in a report this month that screening "can leave some victims thinking that their crime was not taken seriously". The report to the Metropolitan Police Authority also warned that screening "could lead to missed detection opportunities when an initial assessment fails to identify significant lines of inquiry that would have become apparent had a secondary investigation taken place".
A Home Office spokesman said: "It is for individual forces to make decisions on how they use their resources."
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