Tag Archives: police

Police abandon 850,000 inquiries a year

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An article I worked on with Peter Newlands and Jon Ungoed-Thomas made the front page of the Sunday Times this weekend.

Freedom of information requests revealed more than half of police forces that responded to use a ‘screening out’ process, in which crimes are not investigated because police feel they are unlikely to be solved.

The Metropolitan Police alone abandoned more than 350,000 inquiries in 2011-12.

Among the victims affected was Marc Cutler, a public relations executive from north London, who had his Charge Plug bike stolen from railings near a flower market last year.

He said: “I spoke to the police, but they said there was not a lot they could do. They’d give me a crime report number, but they were not hopeful I’d get it back.

Cutler tracked down the stolen bike himself by scanning for advertisements on websites. He contacted the seller, a Russian man, and took two friends for the rendezovous.

At the meeting, Cutler clutched his stolen bike as his friends phone the police. Cutler said: “When the police got there, they checked the serial number and told the man he could leave the bike with me, or be arrested – he finally left. It’s a shame that they don’t take crimes like this seriously.”

Philippa Brady, an events manager who lives in London, had her bank card, camera and cash stolen during a night out at a cinema. There was CCTV footage that could have been examined, but police said a detailed investigation was not appropriate. She says she was told by an officer “There wasn’t a thing they could do.”

Full text is available on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold.

Two websites helped me speak to a number of affected cyclists whose stolen bikes were not investigated – www.stolen-bikes.co.uk and www.londoncyclist.co.uk.

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Police turn to G4S to staff murder inquiries

front page 14 march

My story on police privatisation made the front page of the Sunday Times this weekend.

Since hundreds of experienced police officers were forced to retire under regulation A19 in 2010/11, there has been a boom in demand for so-called ‘civilian investigators’ in the police.

They are not warranted cops, and as such are not able to make arrests, and they are usually private contractors to the police hired via an agency like Adecco or G4S.

Home Secretary Teresa May has always insisted that “core police functions” will always be done by officers, but the adverts I found online suggested that these boundaries are being pushed further than ever before.

G4S is advertising for ‘senior investigating officers’ (SIOs), a role in the police force that describes the officer heading up a major inquiry into crimes like murder, kidnapping or rape. A handbook by the Association of Chief Police Officers describes the role of SIO in a homicide investigation as “potentially one of the most complex and challenging positions within the Police Service”.

G4S confirmed it had been asked to place the adverts, but declined to identify the force(s) or how many of the 29,000 ‘police-skilled’ individuals on its books had applied.

The Home Office argues that police forces may make savings by hiring in experienced staff only temporarily, but most staff hired in this way (who will be private contractors, who have their pay/contracts organised by G4S) will be former policemen, already in receipt of a police pension.

A former superintendent who was forced to step down after 30 years’ service will be in receipt of around £40,000 a year in pension payments.

Full text is available on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold:

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Hundreds of police stations to close

I hit the phones, alongside another Sunday Times reporter, to survey the cuts to frontline services in police forces across the country.

We found that across 30 of the 43 constabularies in England and Wales, 350 of 931 public counters at stations — 38% of the total — are to be closed in the next six months.

Full text can be found on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold.

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