By Hugh Dunnett, Crime Correspondent
Swingeing budget cuts and COVID-19 measures could force the police to cease investigating crime, according to a leaked top-level report.
The report, from a multi-agency body called Policing Economics in Norfolk, Ipswich and Suffolk, details how years of budgetary restrictions, government interference and pressures on the police service from COVID-19 could lead to ‘expensive’ crime investigations being halted.
The controversial report – entitled Policing Post-Covid: A new Social Dynamic – says cash-strapped police should not have to deal with investigations of crime which are ‘time consuming’, ‘complicated’ and ‘wasteful on resources’.
Instead, police should focus on the existing procedures of arriving late to a scene before handing out crime prevention leaflets, a crime number and retuning to their station to fill out the appropriate reporting forms.
The report outlines how refined protocols could include virtual officers answering FAQs in an updated website, leaving them more time for vital paperwork.
“During Covid, petty crime has rocketed,” states the report. “And in spite of the Prime Minister’s promise of extra officers, the police simply no longer have time to chase down criminals as this creates an intolerable threat of time and cost overruns.”
Under guidelines recommended by the report, police officers will be required:
- To assess a report of crime for protocol nuisance value
- To establish a probable cost report
- Make an assessment of PR value in investigating the alleged crime
- Risk assess the probability of an investigation of causing offence among minority and/or specialist socio-economic groups
Once a report has been filed, suggests the report, a senior civilian will decide, based on the evidence, whether or not to offer the victim counselling.
“I was afraid something like this might happen,” said a recently retired senior officer who asked not to be named. “Crime, quite honestly, is a pain in the police backside. It simply interferes with day-to-day policing.
“Have you any idea how long it takes, per call out, to verify the ethnicity, faith and gender preferences of every potential victim, witness and suspect in an alleged crime?”
Professor Lorraine Fisher, 34, of the Suffolk Institute of Studies, said: “I hasten to add we were not consulted on this saddening report. The simple matter of fact, however, is the poor old bobby in the beat no longer exists.
“Current policing skills involve creating soothing messages on long telephone queues and directing victims to the website. Leaving the police station in this day and age is expensive, inconvenient and simply not cost-effective.”
Prof Fisher also pointed out that after months of coronavirus lockdown, the courts were so back-logged the chances of prosecuting perpetrators of crime anywhere in the next decade were ‘slim to none’.
Despite numerous attempts by the Suffolk Gazette, no-one at Suffolk and Norfolk Police could be reached for comment.
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