The West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel recently met with HM Inspector of Constabulary Roger Baker at Wakefield for an informal discussion, He commented at the start that we (West Yorkshire) were one of only two panels in the country who had bothered to build a relationship with him to be able to have regular discussions with him for an exchange of information. I pointed out that PCSOs were all very well for visual re assurance walking round but they were not trained or intended to investigate crime. He agreed fully (with all we said) and further commented that the police should not be routinely taking crime reports and investigating crime over the phone, and asking the victims questions like “Is there any DNA?”, “Are there any fingerprints?”and then writing the crime off.
Crime scenes should be visited unless there is very good reason not to, such as theft from a vehicle where the vehicle has been removed from the scene. I recall when I was a Police Officer in the 70s we had to visit the scene of the crime in all cases including where the vehicle had been removed from the scene. Demand management is how can we stop going to things. He also said that PCSOs were allocated crimes to investigate and this should not happen as they are not trained or intended to do it.
West Yorkshire is the worst performing force outside London. The crime figures had been very bad, they had improved, but were not good. The current detection rate nationally was 15 per cent, Here in West Yorkshire the figure was 14 per cent, which means that 86 per cent of perpetrators went undetected.
The average number of arrests per PC was five and the number of criminal intelligence information reports was three per year .
I have not seen a Police Constable in a tall hat patrolling in Bradford in general and Queensbury in particular for some years. So what are they doing, where are they? The HMIC does not know. He did say that the new Chief Constable is performing well. I recall when Panda cars were introduced. It was said that the Police had withdrawn from the public as they were only ever seen driving past in vehicles, and I fear that is happening now.
Lots of local knowledge about crime and local criminals can be gleaned by chatting with the public whilst on patrol but this does not happen, as evidenced by the poor crime intelligence input.
As I walk round Queensbury daily I hear many things that the police are missing out on, and many crimes that people do not report. I recall a person some weeks ago who tried to report deliberate damage he had just witnessed to his neighbours fence by persons who had a vehicle (it wasn’t an accident ). He had the number, rang the police and was told “we can not take a report as its not your fence, tell your neighbour to ring. They never did ! Perhaps the commissioner can use his extra £20 million in his Transformation Fund and his projected £2.7 million underspend in this year to bring the Police Constable back to meet the public face to face.
Coun Michael Walls