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Budget cuts mean police may not attend all crimes

Sir Hugh Orde by reality of cuts to police budgets means forces must ensure officers’ time is put to best use – and this means prioritising calls they attend, the president of ACPO has said.

Sir Hugh Orde (pictured) has defended police officers’ decision to deal with some investigations by phone after forces were widely criticised by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary for inadequate crime investigation.

The report, ‘Core Business: an inspection into crime prevention, police attendance and the use of police time’, examined the prevention of crime; how crime is investigated and how offenders are brought to justice across the 43 forces.

HMIC described a “policing postcode lottery”, whereby members of the public are receiving a different response from the police for the same kind of crime or incident, depending on where they live.

It said criminal damage and car crime were “on the verge of being decriminalised” because forces had “almost given up”.

In some cases victims were asked to check for CCTV or fingerprints and in others police community support officers were being used as “detectives”, the report found.

And the report added: “HMIC was concerned to find that almost half of all forces were unable to provide details of the reported crimes that they had attended.”

But Sir Hugh put this down to budget cuts. He said: “The reality of austerity in policing means that forces must ensure that their officers’ time is put to best use and this means prioritising calls.

“In some instances, this may mean that a report of a crime where the victim is not in imminent danger or the offender is not still in the immediate vicinity will be dealt with over the phone or by other means than the deployment of an officer to the scene. This is not an abdication of forces’ duty of care to victims.”

Forces have lost 16,000 officers over the past four years and chief constables and federations had warned that the service given to the public would be affected.

Irene Curtis, President of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, said: “It is understandable therefore, that with the financial pressures facing the service, the ways in which crimes are attended and investigated are going to have to change. But what we must not do is try to defend situations in which victims of crime are clearly not receiving the service they deserve.”

You can see the full report here

Date posted: September 12, 2014

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