Police to avoid crimes to save money

Senior police officers have drawn up plans to avoid dealing with some crimes in an effort to save money. In a move that will threaten The Scottish Executive's crackdown on anti-social behaviour, a report by the 'Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland' (ACPOS) recommends that officers should no longer be responsible for call-outs to incidents such as car crashes, minor fires or arguments between neighbours. Under the proposals, parking disputes, the abandonment of vehicles, or complaints about loud music or vandalism would also be left to community-support officers or neighbourhood wardens to deal with. Chief Constables across Scotland are also reviewing whether officers should attend attempted suicides, minor fires or incidents of public drunkenness, or be responsible for notifying the next of kin about relatives' deaths. The new strategy has been drawn up because police are concerned about the drain on resources and manpower caused by attending a multitude of minor incidents. If the plan is put into practice, it will seriously undermine The First Minister Mr.Jack Mcconnell's drive to reduce anti-social behaviour; he has pledged to improve the everyday lives of ordinary Scots who are bedevilled by problems of petty crime with the introduction of the 'Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003'.
Under the legislation, police have been given new powers to tackle disruption in areas terrorised by gangs of youths. The courts, too, have been encouraged to take a tougher line with youth offenders and other petty criminals, with the use of community measures such as anti-social behaviour orders.
If officers refuse to respond to incidents of anti-social behaviour, such crimes will be left to community wardens to deal with. Mr.David Mellor, Fife's Deputy Chief Constable and the secretary of ACPOS's general policing committee, which drew up the report, defended the move, saying the policy would save officers time by cutting down on paperwork.
'We want to ensure we deploy our police resources intelligently, so we can do things the public feel are the most important to them, such as seeing more police officers in uniform on patrol'. Mr.Mellor said.
However, Mr.Bill Aitken, the deputy justice spokesman for The Scottish Conservatives, described the proposals as 'totally unacceptable'. He said:
'To suggest police officers should not attend incidents where there is a potential for serious trouble developing is very much a false economy. 'The fact is there are simply not enough police officers on the streets, but this plan is totally unacceptable'.
A spokesman for The First Minister insisted that it was up to the police to enforce the law.
'It is not up to the police to decide what laws they enforce', he said.
'What may be minor to some officers may be very serious to hard-working families across Scotland. 'Parliament creates the law and it is up to the police to enforce it', the spokesman said.
The ACPOS committee's report, 'Beating Bureaucracy', highlights the drain on resources caused by neighbour disputes and says police intervention is largely ineffective. The policy, which is expected to be launched across all eight Scottish forces this year, will see so-called 'non-attendance' calls referred to local authorities. Police insist all '999' calls will be assessed carefully to ensure officers respond to genuine emergencies. The ACPOS strategy emerges as a report, due to be published next week, claims English and Welsh forces are among the world's least effective. The study from 'Civitas', a right-wing think-tank, says the police spend too much time behind their desks instead of tackling and preventing crime. Countries such as the United States of America, France and Germany have all suffered steep rises in crime since the 1960s, similar to that in Britain, but have been more effective at tackling it. The rise in crime in the UK is 'so spectacular' it is 'difficult to comprehend', the report says, adding that Britain is now 'a seriously crime-afflicted and disintegrating society'. The report concludes:
'The attitude of the police towards crime and anti-social behaviour has changed radically from the principles which were laid down by the founders of the Metropolitan Police in the early 19th century. 'The hostility of the law-enforcement establishment to the old beat policing model is a significant factor in the police force's inability to get to grips with rising crime'.
'Scots' police chiefs plan to ignore minor crime "to boost efficiency"', Andrew Denholm, The Scotsman, 2005-01-03


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robocops. That's what they are. Hiding behind cameras and speed traps to catch "Criminals". The last thing they want to do is deal with any trouble.

1/04/2005 01:19:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is about time! A review of the police is long overdue, because the range of activities overstretches the force. How can one organisation be expected to deal with high level fraud, murder, noisy neighbours, speeding and riots? And they have to deal with policing themselves too, yet in other countries there are different police forces that specialise, and it seems to work well. I think the police should be split up into different and distinct forces with clearly defined remits and budgets.

1/06/2005 12:57:00 pm  

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