Monday, 1 October 2007

Are the Police taking the Mickey?

Posted by Chris:

People who claim that the Police fail to respond when they report minor crimes will be interested to learn about this bizarre Police initiative.

Cleveland Police and Redcar & Cleveland Council work together to help reduce crime and there are Government induced Public Service Agreements in place that set targets for crime reduction.

On criminal damage the annual target for reduction in Redcar & Cleveland is, I think, 17.5% and I understand that we are missing the target by about 50%.

A report to today's meeting of Main Scrutiny from R & C's Safer, Stronger Communities Partnership stated:

"Findings from the strategic problem profile on criminal damage has resulted in changes to the approach taken on recording by Cleveland Police."

What has actually happened is that the Police are seeking to eliminate some of the incidents so that the figures can be reduced. They now send a police officer to "challenge and visit every reported incident of criminal damage in order. Findings suggest that approximately 10% of reported incidents should not be categorised a criminal damage."

One of the problems they have found is that Registered Social Landlord, Coast & Country Housing, that has a significant number of properties in the Borough, have been insisting that tenants report damage to their properties and obtain a crime number before the landlord will repair the damage. The Police, who clearly do not investigate these crimes, have simply handed out crime numbers on request, regardless of whether the damage was done by the tenant themselves, or it was only accidental damage done by a youngster playing football, for example. In other cases people seek crime numbers to claim on insurance.

In order to deal with this problem the police have started to investigate each and every one of these incidents, about 480 last month, not to catch the culprit but simply to delete from the list those that are not categorised as criminal damage. Obviously I do not condone false reports of criminal damage to the police to avoid paying for it or to claim on the insurance, they are , in fact crimes in themselves, but surely they should be concentrating on other things?

We posted recently about a garden fence, fronting on to West Dyke Road car park, that was damaged by a car, whose driver, failed to stop. When Glynis visited the householder she advised her to report it to the Police. I had the lady to my surgery last week and she told me that the Police had simply said that she should take it up with the Council as it was "the Council's car park." The Council, of course, says it is "not responsible for criminal damage caused by an individual."

The lady is not happy and is faced with paying for the damage herself. Reports in this blog, or in our newsletter Focus, have prompted one resident to telephone to say that he witnessed the incident. It was caused, he said, by a female driver, in her fifties, driving a red car but that was all the information he could provide.

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