'Arthur Daley' spirit attacked: Police says public turns blind eye to theft

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

BURGLARS are being encouraged by the public's 'Arthur Daley' mentality to crime and willingness to turn a blind eye to stolen goods, one of Britain's most senior police officers said yesterday.

Sir Paul Condon, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, also blamed the boom in car boot sales for providing an important market for burglars, particularly those trying to sell electrical items.

He said the traditional partnership between the police and the public in helping to maintain law and order had been eroded and urged greater unity in future.

Speaking at a crime conference in London, he said: 'Society's ambivalence towards the 'Arthur Daley' mentality helps the burglar and the handlers of stolen property.'

He pointed towards a recent survey which found that more than half of those questioned said they would not report criminals to the police.

'Why else are otherwise law-abiding people prepared to buy goods without challenging their origins,' he asked. 'Why else are people so reluctant to come forward as witnesses,' he added.

He said the huge increase in the number of people who owned mobile telephones, video recorders, car tape machines and other electrical goods made it inevitable that more and more of these items would be stolen and sold on the black market. Forty per cent of burglaries involve the theft of electrical goods.

Meanwhile, another police chief challenged the link between crime and unemployment as he reported a dramatic fall in crime in Glasgow and neighbouring areas.

Even the once-notorious Glasgow district of Govan is seeing a sharp fall in recorded crime in common with the rest of Scotland, Leslie Sharp, Chief Constable of Strathclyde police, told the conference. Detailing a series of police and council initiatives which helped to secure a 11 per cent drop in crime during the past year in Strathclyde, he said the Scottish experience challenged 'any correlation' between crime and unemployment, illegitimate births, or the proportion of council houses.

Strategies included a series of 90-day operations targeting specific problems. These included gangland killings in Glasgow, drunks in city centres, the growth in the number of knife attacks, and burglaries. Crime in Airdrie fell by 70 per cent after town-centre closed-circuit cameras were introduced.

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