Police and public differ on crime priorities

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The Independent Online
The police and public do not always agree on what makes a good police service, according to a survey yesterday.

Vandalism, drink-driving and foot patrols are considered more important issues by the public than by police, according to a report in the Consumers' Association magazine, Which?

Vehicle crime and domestic violence were also given greater priority by the members of the public than by officers, the survey of 400 police and 1,000 civilians found.

However, both groups agreed that burglary was the priority in a list of 15 offences tackled by the police, with hard drugs, street robberies and muggings also given top attention.

On crime prevention, while the public believes more police on the beat would help reduce crime, police rate special squads, closed-circuit television and working with local agencies as more effective, the survey claimed.

Charlotte Gann, managing editor of Which?, said: "Our surveys have revealed that the police sometimes have different priorities from those of the public. The Home Office and the police should consider these when setting priorities for the future."

A spokeswoman for the Police Federation said: "When it comes to police priorities we've got to be careful that they are relevant to the public."

She said the federation's own research showed 90 per cent of police officers rated foot patrols highly and said the Which? report findings could reflect the low status attached to patrols by force managers.

"We remain convinced that the public is right to call for more foot patrols," the federation spokeswoman said.