THE revelation that up to a million reported crimes are being dropped with little or no investigation will alarm all those concerned about law and order. However, while some police critics will take the leadership of their local constabulary to task, some perspective is required.
Even if Yorkshire’s forces had not been forced to lose 3,000-plus staff in the name of austerity, they still would not have had the resources to investigate each complaint. Their workload is changing – not least because of cyber-crime – and priority has always been given to those cases most likely to yield a conviction.
The central issue is that each victim believes, and understandably so, that their case is more important than others. It places an even greater onus on communication and police call handling centres being able to keep people informed about the progress – and status – of any investigation. After all, intelligence is key to solving many crimes, particularly those involving serial offenders.
Yet the glibness of the Home Office does not help. By saying that it expects police “to take all reports of crime seriously” before adding that the deployment of resources is “a matter for chief constables and police and crime commissioners”, it is absolving itself of any responsibility. This is unacceptable. What Home Secretary Sajid Javid should be doing is standing up to the Treasury and saying that ‘enough is enough’ when it comes to further cuts in police funding – and setting how he intends to work with local forces to minimise the number of cases ‘screened out’ in the future. This, for now, is more important than his now obvious leadership ambitions.