Police ask victims to do ‘DIY’ investigations of some crimes

Police encourage victims to look for potential witnesses or fingerprints

Crime Correspondent

Talent for putting up shelves? House renovation? What about a new DIY challenge: working out who stole the car from the bottom of the drive.

Inspectors today outline their concerns over a growing trend for victims of crime to be asked to carry out their own DIY investigations after having their car stolen or property damaged. Householders are being asked by police to look out for potential fingerprint evidence, check for witnesses and look on second-hand websites for stolen property, according to a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

It found that 37 of the 43 forces in England and Wales dealt with some cases over the telephone and closed some without the victim ever meeting a police officer. Seventeen of the forces failed to recognise vulnerable victims, the report found.

HMIC said it was particularly concerned about desk-based investigations which in some cases amounted to little more than recording a crime without taking further action. The watchdog warned that some offences, such as criminal damage or stolen vehicles, are on the verge of being decriminalised by police forces which had given up investigating them.

Roger Baker, one of the inspectors, said: “When a crime has been committed, it’s the job of the police service to go and find out who’s done it and bring them to justice.

“They’re the cops and we expect the cops to catch people. Unless you’ve got the powers of Mystic Meg or something like that, you not turning up and using your skills, it’s going to be mightily difficult to bring people to justice.

“It’s more a mindset, that we no longer deal with these things. And effectively what’s happened is a number of crimes are on the verge of being decriminalised. So it’s not the fault of the individual staff, it’s a mindset thing that’s crept into policing to say ‘we’ve almost given up’.”

In some cases, police community support officers were asked to investigate.

Sir Hugh Orde, the head of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: “The reality of austerity in policing means that forces must ensure that their officers’ time is put to best use and this means prioritising calls.

“In some instances, this may mean that a report of a crime where the victim is not in imminent danger or the offender is not still in the immediate vicinity will be dealt with over the phone or by other means than the deployment of an officer to the scene. This is not an abdication of forces’ duty of care to victims.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works