As has been widely reported, our fresh out of the box Home Secretary Teresa May has been speaking at the ACPO conference. She has claimed an end to The Policing Pledge amongst other things. I did enjoy the adverts. Two stereotyped 'yobs' stole a sign. The PC wanders by some time later, and is invited into the homestead. He then wanders away afterwards. You were supposed to feel reassured that you could share your tea with a member of the constabulary. I feel the immediate thoughts of most people were 'why isn't he chasing the yobs?'
An end to performance indicators has also been announced. This has been met with cynicism in many of the lower orders of the police service. Senior police officers cannot function without spreadsheets and pie charts. This is a fact. Last year it was announced that the only performance indicator the police would be measured on was 'public confidence.' How we all celebrated! Except the bosses. They kept all the other measures and added that one on top. The new broom will make no difference. Police rank puts the big C in conservative all right.
Teresa May has demanded that the police service reduce crime. This must have woken up a number of the ACPO representatives, the majority of whom will not have seen an offender since they were forced to confront an elderly shoplifter in their probation. This is an admirable aim, but what exactly does it mean?
The majority of crime goes unreported to the police. Of the offences that are reported, the majority are 'screened out' ie deemed unworthy of further investigation. Of those that are 'screened in' only a small number lead to arrests. Of these, in partnership with the CPS, a smaller percentage lead to a charge and subsequent court appearance. A number of these lead to 'not guilty' verdicts. As you can see, those unfortunates who manage to get themselves convicted represent a tiny proportion of those members of our society who are taking part in crime.
This has two ramifications. Should the police work towards having more crime reported? Efforts are made to increase the confidence of certain groups, which I won't bore you with naming, but I'm sure you can guess. The police cannot cope with the level of crime reported as it stands. This can only be abated by reducing the amount of trivial rubbish on the statute books, and re-empowering the police to take no further action based on the opinion of the officer dealing with the incident. Police time is hugely wasted by individuals who cannot comprehend the rights of others, and see only their own satisfaction as a desirable outcome.
Example: White youth on a bus is asked to leave by ticket inspectors for fare evasion. He is verbally abusive and threatening, and police are called. The inspectors do not wish to take any action against him, merely wanting to be allowed to go about their business. The white youth alleges they are racist. There is absolutely no evidence for this. None. A crime report is completed however, naming the white youth as a victim. This is because he said he was. That is what the guidelines demand.
The second ramification goes much deeper. It involves society taking more responsibility for what goes on within it. I do not believe in the concept of community in inner city areas. The default position for most law abiding people in these areas is to keep to yourself. Society must demand that people take responsibility for their own actions, and recognise the impact their behaviour has on others. Empathy. Currently the country is infested with a culture of blame. There is always someone else, or a public agency to blame. Without a sea change in this attitude, crime will not be reduced.
I appreciate that the Home Sec will only be interested in the offences reported to the police. We should not be.