John Halewood-Dodd column

John Halewood Dodd.
John Halewood Dodd.
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I appreciate that I have previously written about the extreme pressure that the 43 police forces in England and Wales are under, but unfortunately things seem to be getting worse.

Due to the budget cuts that each of these forces are implementing I have been looking into how this effects the policing that we receive.

This Government have stated on innumerable occasions that the ‘victim’ should be at the centre of the Criminal Justice System, but the reality is that this is not the case. This is particularly so when looking at minor offences, although when you are the victim of crime it has to be acknowledged that it may not feel minor.

I have come across many examples of late where the police have failed to respond to incidents whatsoever. In other examples they have dealt with reports of crime by telephone only sending the victim a reference number by text or email having told them that the police will contact them further if additional information comes to light. Often, that is the last they hear of the matter.

This is extremely frustrating for those who expect the police to investigate cases properly. A recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has looked into this and the findings are quite staggering.

They uncovered empirical evidence of victims being asked to carry out the investigation themselves on the premise that the police would only get involved if there was something for them to work with.

The examples included victims being advised to check if there was CCTV coverage of the incident, whether fingerprints had been left behind, whether proceeds of any theft were being sold locally, and even interviewing neighbours to see if they had witnessed anything.

These, incredible as they may seem, are not isolated incidents. In one in five crimes reported to the police officers fail to attend to investigate the offence. Not because they choose not to but because staffing levels have been reduced so savagely that they are simply unable to do so. This led the author of the report to conclude that the police had “almost given up”.

If you were unfortunate to be the victim of crime I feel sure that you would agree that something needs to be done.