Blowing the whistle: The inside story of how targets make policing worse


Police crime figures have come under scrutiny after the Office for National Statistics revealed  concerns that officers had come under “informal pressure” to cut the level of offences. With crime apparently falling,  the Government has  trumpeted its successes even as forces face cuts and dissent from within the ranks. Here a serving constable reveals how the system works for frontline officers...

Crime doesn’t get investigated properly and it hasn’t done for a long time now. Certain crimes get dealt with straight away because they’re the easy ones to deal with. You have to be 110 per cent certain that a crime has been committed for it to be recorded as a crime.

Just about every single reported theft of a mobile phone is recorded as lost property. You will find very, very few recorded attempted burglaries because they all get recorded as criminal damage. The reason is because burglary is a far more serious crime and every force has its priorities. A reduction in burglary is a massive thing and if they can keep figures for burglary and attempted burglary low that effectively increases public confidence  – they get measured on that as well.

They will actually hold back detected crimes. They will set a target each month – somewhere in the region of 30 to 35 percent. But if after the first 25 days of the month they have detected 50 percent they will actually hold 15 percent of them back and it goes over into the next month.

Crimes only get detected if they’re easily solvable. The vast majority of all shoplifting and thefts from shops are solved. Nearly every single store now has CCTV and security who know the prominent shoplifters. I know for a fact that if I got to work and a shoplifting comes in, my supervisor would tell me: “Quick, get that” because it’s an easy detection, especially if the shops have the shoplifters detained. It’s a bunfight to see who gets there first to arrest them because it’s an easy detection.

But the next month they will be on to you because that detected shoplifter has been stuck in the bank which will be used in three months’ time. You can’t do anything about it. All you can do now – and this is why it’s such a bureaucratic process – is that when you detect something is to create an audit trail in case anyone says: no you haven’t. Honestly, all it is a huge backside covering exercise.

There just isn’t enough people to investigate crimes properly. If, say, there is a queue of 20 jobs and you have five officers to deal with them, it’s impossible to fully investigate a crime properly. You’ll get sergeants and inspectors saying, why are you still there? Get on to the next job.

You could spend four or five hours investigating an attempted burglary but you know nobody’s going to pat you on the back and say “I know you’ve done your best”. What they would rather see is that you’ve done lip service to attempted burglary but you get your detected on the shoplifting.

I go and see victims of crime all of the time and some of them are heart-wrenching. They might have suffered what seems to other people like the most insignificant crime, but when you speak to an 80-year-old woman who has had her letterbox damaged, what’s wrong with spending an hour there having a cup of tea reassuring them? You’re not allowed to do that.

The public in this country do not in any way get the service that they deserve. Policing nowadays is fire brigade policing. You go to a job, you deal with it in the quickest possible fashion before the pressure is on you to deal with the next one. If you don’t deal with the next job, there’s no other officer to do it.

The police officer’s name has been withheld. He is a long-serving frontline officer.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice