11th Dec, 2018

West Mercia Police vows to act after Channel 4's Dispatches showed a third of crimes were 'screened out' and not investigated

A HARD-hitting TV documentary has found West Mercia Police is screening out nearly a third of all reported crimes.

Research by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme ‘Lawless Britain: Where are the Police?’ on Monday showed 31.21 per cent of crimes in the force area were logged but not investigated.

In the programme criminologist Martin Innes warned criminal damage and vehicle crimes were ‘gateway offences’, used to launch criminal careers.

“That’s the kind of thing where people learn how to commit crime, they learn the lifestyle, they learn the contacts they need to disperse the stuff they steal,” he said.

“And we know from pretty good evidence that if people engage in these kinds of gateway type offences and if they are not caught and intercepted then they are more likely to go on and continue to offend at greater levels and engage in more serious forms of crime.”

Fears were expressed that failure to investigate crimes could lead to disillusionment from the public and incidents not being reported, resulting in the police building up a false picture of crime in their area.

Simon Ham – whose business was in the West Mercia Police area – had his £20,000 van stolen. The theft was caught on CCTV, the registration number was recorded and distinctive tattoos on the thief’s arms could be seen which Mr Ham felt provided good evidence to investigate.

But he said his case was ‘screened out’ and any action taken was after he pushed the police to act.

Experts expressed fears crimes not being investigated led to public disillusionment and incidents not being reported, meaning the police built up an inaccurate picture of the crime types and levels in their areas.

Ch Supt Kevin Purcell said victims of crime deserved and expected the highest standard of service from the police and apologised for when people felt the force fell short.

“I acknowledge on this occasion the standard of investigation fell below this standard and we are now looking to address this.

“We always endeavour to ensure our investigations are proportionate to the threat, harm and risk posed but also the likelihood of a successful outcome.”

He understood the impact vehicle theft had on victims, their daily lives and their livelihoods.

Under ‘Protect’, he said, the force was working hard to robustly tackle organised crime groups, putting a stop to their activity.

Crime prevention played a huge role in stopping crime in the first place and over the past few years the force had worked in partnership with local communities and the Police and Crime Commissioner to make towns, villages and rural communities even safer by making them We Don’t Buy Crime areas.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said he was committed to putting victims first, ensuring they received an efficient and effective service.

“West Mercia Police deals with around 9,000 calls per week and unfortunately some will sometimes fall below this standard,” he said.

“I will continue to hold the Chief Constable to account ensuring West Mercia Police have the resources to deliver the service our communities expect.”

To see Lawless Britain: Where are the Police? visit https://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches

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