Letter: Police inaction on petty crime

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The Independent Online
Sir: Danny and his three friends stole my expensive new car radio. I know it was Danny and his mates because he was watched by two neighbours. When I told the police, they knew all about Danny. They believed that he was doing about three or four cars a day, every day.

When I asked why they didn't simply arrest him, they told me it was not cost effective. When taken to court, Danny, being only 16 years old, would have his case remanded and a social worker appointed to make a report. That would waste a morning of the arresting officer's time; the social worker's fee would come out of police budgets, as would the court costs.

There might be several more remands, each incurring further court costs and wasting another half-day of the officer's time, until the report was ready. When the case finally reached court, it would take a disproportionately long time because of the robust case for 'understanding' that the social services tend to put up, in spite of irrefutable guilt.

The bottom line is that three to six months after my radio was stolen, because the magistrate would be reluctant to commit him to the training ground that prison undoubtedly is, the worst Danny and his pals could expect was a period of probation. While I understand that the police feel there is little to be gained by prosecuting, Danny will continue thieving with virtual impunity until his 18th birthday, by which time he will have stolen perhaps another pounds 300,000 worth of private property.

Your correspondent John Navin (letter, 25 February), who writes from the Wolds Remand Centre, perhaps has an answer; Mr Clarke seems to have none. The rest of us just watch with an increasing sense of disbelief and frustration.

Yours faithfully,

DAVID SHORTT

London, N5

25 February

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