Major funding cuts in the 43 police forces across Britain has led to a situation where hard-pressed policemen encourage victims of crime to carry out their own investigations and inform the police of the results for the record.
A report released on Thursday by the Inspectorate of Constabulary says criminal damage and car crime were “on the verge of being decriminalised” because forces had “almost given up”, and in some cases, victims were asked to check for CCTV or fingerprints themselves.
Reiterating that investigation and detection of crime is the ‘core business’ of the police, the report says it is ‘worrying’ that the inspection team observed some police call-handlers “in effect encouraging victims to carry out their own investigations”.
The report, described as ‘devastating’, says, “This, together with the lack of time devoted to investigating some less serious volume crimes, indicates that, in many forces, the investigation is little more than a crime-recording process”.
The Association of Chief Police Officers said austerity prompted by major funding cuts under the David Cameron government meant forces had to set priorities. The report mentions that overall crime has been falling in Britain, but highlights several anomalies in the functioning of the police forces.
On bringing offenders to justice, the report says the inspectorate was ‘extremely concerned’ to find that 11 forces were unable to provide information on the number of named suspects that had yet to be arrested or interviewed, and nine forces were unable to tell the number of suspects who had failed to answer their police bail.
“It is quite unacceptable for some forces to be operating in the second decade of the 21st century without the ability to establish and routinely monitor efficiently such basic information.”
It adds, “The lack of effective systems in some forces to monitor progress of such a basic part of police work is a matter of considerable concern.”