Sunday, 22 November 2009

Victims of Crime

" The wall is owned by a property company based in the Bahamas, Sarge. OK if I pay them a visit next week?"

We must be approaching an election. Our Home Secretary, Alan Johnson has announced that he believes all victims of crime should be seen by the police no matter how trivial. I have some sympathy with this view but in practice this is unworkable.

Any crimes that the public would regard as serious deserve a visit and if you have your home broken into or if you are assaulted you will be visited. Many people who have their car broken into will get visited by a Scenes of Crime Officer to see if there are any fingerprints or DNA left by the offender.

What about the chap that rang the Utopian Police Force to report two dust caps stolen from his car wheels? Have they really been stolen or did he leave them at the garage when he checked his tyre pressures? Will a visit achieve any more than the phone call and the 30 minutes we have already spent recording, analysing and filing his crime? At least we have fulfilled our obligations to the Home Office by recording it and ensuring we don't feel the wrath of the National Audit Office for not having done so. What about the scratched car? Was that someone with a key vandalising it or a careless shopper in the car park with a shopping trolley? A visit might help decide. For now it is just recorded over the phone as criminal damage.

If we start visiting all these people we won’t have time to visit real victims of crime. Victims like Tracy who rings us to say that her boyfriends ex, Sharon is threatening to kill her. That certainly deserves a visit. Look she’s sent me a text saying ‘You’re a f**king slag and I’m going to f**king do you.’ After we have visited Tracy and spent hours taking statements etc we visit Sharon. Sharon then shows us the text Tracy sent her. ‘He’s mine now you slut. Just f**k off or I’m going to slice you up you f**king bitch.’ So now Sharon wants to allege that Tracy has threatened to kill her. Tracy gets another visit and after we have spent 6 hours time on their allegations they decide to call it quits rather than both risk ending up in court.

If we didn’t have to visit all these real victims of crime we could visit most of the victims of crime that are currently perceived as too trivial to warrant it. What would you rather we did?


  1. I take your point, but in Tracey and Sharon you have chosen unsympathetic examples. They weren't worth six hours of anyone's time, they sound like they deserve each other.

    I had a visit by two PCs when someone set fire to my car. Their visit was not to find evidence to help them identify a culprit, it was to explain that there would not be an investigation at all. I'd rather they were catching criminals than visiting victims, if I had a choice.

  2. There was an advert on the radio this morning promising that 80% of neighbourhood team officers' time would be spent on patrol. Sorry, but I think I'd rather the neighbourhood officers decided how their time is best spent, not an electioneering minister.

  3. It is a tough call, and your argument is relevant. We used telephone reports for a variety of crimes (gas thefts, car vanadlism, etc.) and though they did free officers for other calls, they likely made it eaiser to scam insurance companies with false reports.

  4. We used to visit every victim of crime & we had many thousands fewer officers then.

    We could easily do so again, but all the 'not my remit' folks would be out of a job.

  5. Marksany - I think you missed the irony somewhere. I was trying to make the point that we waste half our time dealing with the social lives of the Sharon and Tracys of this world meaning that people like you, who have had their car damaged, get little or no service at all.

  6. Experienced front line officers would be eminently capable of applying common sense priorities and should be availed the discretion to make the right decision about which jobs to attend and investigate further the majority of the time.

    Until the trivial stuff is eliminated, and officers are allowed to prioritise activity in the best interests of the public and all the other nonsense obstructions to “doing the job” are removed, this will remain a thorny issue.

    Rid the job of the endless form filling, box ticking bureaucracy, misguided performance targeting and politically correct motivated processes and coppers will be freed up to do the job they’d all rather be doing.

    Leave the common sense copper to make decision. Common sense coppering should determine the seriousness of the incident, the likelihood of a resolution and the current level of prioritised response.

    Not sure Alan Johnson sees it quite that way, with his “Every victim will be visited” mantra.

  7. 200weeks.

    Back in the day, the Detective Inspector possesed the Crime book and guarded it with his life. Only crimes that fulfilled his criteria got recorded. That is why less officers could visit all victims of crime- recorded crime was far less than today.

    Gubbinsment and its' Bean Counters should keep their noses out (in my humble opinion of course).

  8. What you should do is to tell Sharon and Tracey that they're time wasting slags, and that they'll get a smack if they bother you again.

    What you will do is knuckle under and dispatch a "P"CSO to take notes, then you'll complete the ever-engorging 5 x 5 x 5 reports with the usual targets-compliant fiction, as well you know.

  9. ....and if the 'victim' is Regina?