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News and Comment February 2020

Index: 2020

10 February (Part 1) - Police question time

There was a Scrutiny meeting last Wednesday which provides an opportunity for Councillors to ask difficult questions, although sometimes they appear to be somewhat superficial and non-answers are happily accepted. This time however one or two of them rose to the occasion and made the Chief Superintendent earn his keep.

DimentCabinet Member Alex Sawyer made his dissatisfaction with the current BCU model (three boroughs in one) very clear adding that “the public may not see the problems day to day but Bexley and many London boroughs Councils have significant issues. We are very aware of them. I do not believe the BCU model works for Bexley. We have gone from the safest borough to the seventh safest borough, to the sixth and to the fifth safest borough. I simply don’t think it works”.

Councillor Richard Diment (Conservative, Sidcup) said that detection rates for burglary, robbery and violence were all very low, “single figure percentages”, leading to miscreants thinking they can always get away with it. “The numbers do not look impressive, are they typical, how does Bexley relate to other areas?”

The Chief Superintendent said he shared those concerns. He said that “victim cooperation” and follow through “drops off a cliff edge after a time and it is a really difficult area. They fear how they will be treated by the criminal justice system”.

IT evidence creates a lot of difficulty too because of the amount of data to be seized, analysed and disclosed. Home CCTV is often not good enough. OK for corroboration perhaps but not to charge.

None of this comes as a surprise to me, the police have spent 20 years alienating law abiding members of the public and now they are reaping the reward. For me it all started around 30 years ago when a lady stationary in a traffic jam on the M3 was charged for eating a Kit Kat bar. Now arresting the victim has almost become the norm.

The CPS is also less willing to charge than it was because of limited resources.

“The majority of vehicle crime does not actually get any police attendance.” No witnesses plus no forensics equals “very unlikely to detect that offence. It is a national phenomenon”.

If robberies are not reported immediately, “the chances of detection drop away”. It is true “that arrests rates have dropped. They are the reasons why detection rates are dropping. Demand exceeds capacity.”


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