UK Cops to Public: Solve Your Own Crimes

Citizens often told to conduct own investigations for common offenses: report
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2014 9:11 AM CDT
UK Cops to Public: Solve Your Own Crimes
British police officers walk past a Ferrari trailer in the paddock area before the British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone circuit, Silverstone in England, July 6, 2014.   (AP Photo/Jon Super)

(Newser) – It's not that British police don't want to help you solve crimes that have victimized you—it's just that they want you to help you solve those crimes. A report released by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary on crime figures and the "use of police time" reveals that people who are calling in crimes to local law enforcement are increasingly "being encouraged" to do their own detective work, reports the BBC. Although some departments are blaming the newest trend of DIY sleuthing on budget cuts and austerity measures, others think that high-volume crimes like car break-ins and vandalism have led police to just "almost [give] up."

The HMIC review finds that some crime victims were asked by police to examine surveillance videos, check for fingerprints, query neighbors, or log onto secondhand sales websites to track down pilfered merch, the BBC notes. A criminal psychology professor at Birmingham City University says that by decriminalizing what he calls "nuisance behaviors" and shoving the responsibility of crime-solving back onto the people, "an early opportunity to link serial crimes like this, and to therefore prevent more serious offenses [such as sex offenses or stalking] being committed later, could be missed," according to the BBC. "The police have been given powers and resources to investigate crime by the public, and there should be no expectation on the part of the police that an inversion of that responsibility is acceptable," the HMIC report says. (Some NYPD officers have used laziness as a rather unique excuse.)

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