Security Blog

Crime victims expected by police to be the investigators

In September 2014 the Justice Inspectorates HMIC released their inspection into crime prevention, police attendance and the use of police time. Three sections should be of particular note to home and business owners:

2.47: "Our inspection also identified that for some reports of volume crime (such as vehicle crime, criminal damage and burglaries of properties other than a dwelling); a trend is emerging of asking victims in effect to carry out the investigation themselves. This was evident in some of the forces that were operating a threat, harm and risk policy in relation to attendance. Victims are asked a series of questions to assess the risk of evidence being lost and to establish the likelihood of the crime being solved. These questions include whether there is any CCTV coverage of the area, any potential fingerprint evidence and whether the victim knows if there are any witnesses to the crime. If the victim does not know the answer to these questions, HMIC observed in some forces that they are asked to speak to neighbours, check for CCTV or view second-hand sales websites to see if their stolen property is being advertised for sale. Many of these crimes are recorded and filed on the very day of the initial report with no further apparent contact with the victim. HMIC finds this expectation by these forces that the victim should investigate his own crime both surprising and a matter of material concern. The police have been given powers and resources to investigate crime by the public, and there should be no expectation on the part of the police that an inversion of that responsibility is acceptable."

2.48: "Our inspection also identified that for some reports of volume crime (such as vehicle crime, criminal damage and burglaries of properties other than a dwelling); a trend is emerging of asking victims in effect to carry out the investigation themselves. This was evident in some of the forces that were operating a threat, harm and risk policy in relation to attendance. Victims are asked a series of questions to assess the risk of evidence being lost and to establish the likelihood of the crime being solved. These questions include whether there is any CCTV coverage of the area, any potential fingerprint evidence and whether the victim knows if there are any witnesses to the crime. If the victim does not know the answer to these questions, HMIC observed in some forces that they are asked to speak to neighbours, check for CCTV or view second-hand sales websites to see if their stolen property is being advertised for sale. Many of these crimes are recorded and filed on the very day of the initial report with no further apparent contact with the victim. HMIC finds this expectation by these forces that the victim should investigate his own crime both surprising and a matter of material concern. The police have been given powers and resources to investigate crime by the public, and there should be no expectation on the part of the police that an inversion of that responsibility is acceptable."

2.50: "HMIC found that in some cases of desk-based investigation, crime management unit and telephone investigation unit staff had asked a neighbourhood officer or PCSO to visit the location of a crime and, in some cases, to investigate the crime. HMIC is clear that forces should ensure that a PCSO’s primary function remains a reassurance role, not an investigative one."

- http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmic/wp-content/uploads/core-business.pdf

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