LETTER: Moving furniture won't stop theft

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The Independent Online
From Dr Gary Slapper

Sir: Although crime figures have spiralled upwards over the last decade, government policy relating to the prosecution authorities is now set to describe a full circle ("Big boost for police in CPS shake-up", 5 December).

In 1985, prosecuting offenders was a task taken from the police and given to a new independent authority, the Crown Prosecution Service. The rationale then was that the police were not the best suited to be prosecutors, as they would often have a commitment to winning a case where the evidence was weak. They were also not best placed to evaluate public policy considerations.

Now the Attorney-General is about to install Crown prosecutors in police stations so as to "improve the liaison between officers and prosecuting authorities". The obviously intended result is that staff of the CPS (known to many police officers as the "Criminals' Protection Service") will be immersed in police culture and thinking.

It is the fault neither of the police nor of the Crown prosecutors that crime is an epidemic problem in the 1990s, so rearranging this institutional furniture will have no appreciable impact on crime figures. Major political and economic changes are to blame for modern crime, two-thirds of which is domestic burglary and theft of and from cars.

Yours faithfully,

Gary Slapper

The Law School

Staffordshire University