Sunday, 26 June 2011


Apparently, Scotland Yard has issued guidance to Officers instructing them not to arrest people who verbally abuse them in the streets, as the courts don’t convict them and the force may have to pay out compensation claims.

Reported in the Mail and the Telegraph today, Scotland Yard has issued a card to its officers, telling them to do nothing if they are subjected to a torrent of obscene abuse.
The card, which the police are told to keep on them, secreted behind their warrant badges, says: ‘The courts do not accept police officers are caused harassment, alarm or distress by words such as ‘f**k, c**t, b*****ks, w*****s’.

For the non legal reader, the common legislation applied falls under section 5 of the Public Order Act, which states that a person is guilty of an offence under the act who:-

There must be a person within the sight or hearing of the suspect who is likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress by the conduct in question. A police officer may be such a person, but this is a question of fact to be decided in each case by the magistrates. In determining this, the magistrates may take into account the familiarity which police officers have with the words and conduct typically seen in incidents of disorderly conduct. (DPP v Orum [1988] Crim LR 848).

Although the existence of a person who is caused harassment alarm and distress must be proved, there is no requirement that they actually give evidence. In appropriate cases, the offence may be proved on a police officer's evidence alone.

Police officers are aware of the difficult balance to be struck in dealing with those whose behaviour may be perceived by some as exuberant high spirits but by others as disorderly. In such cases informal methods of disposal may be appropriate and effective; but if this approach fails and the disorderly conduct continues then criminal proceedings may be necessary.

Whether behaviour can be properly categorised as disorderly is a question of fact. Disorderly behaviour does not require any element of violence, actual or threatened, and it includes conduct that is not necessarily threatening, abusive or insulting. It is not necessary to prove any feeling of insecurity in an apprehensive sense on the part of the member of the public (Chambers and Edwards v DPP [1995] Crim LR 896). The following types of conduct are examples, which may at least be capable of amounting to disorderly behaviour:
  • causing a disturbance in a residential area or common part of a block of flats;
  • persistently shouting abuse or obscenities at passers-by;
  • perstering people waiting to catch public transport or otherwise waiting in a queue;
  • rowdy behaviour in a street late at night which might alarm residents or passers-by, especially those who may be vulnerable, such as the elderly or members of an ethnic monority group;
  • causing a disturbance in a shopping precinct or other area to which the public have access or might otherwise gather;
  • bullying.

The Civil Actions Unit is a secretive body within the Metropolitan Police Authority, which handles legal claims brought against Scotland Yard.

More than 200 actions against the Met are settled every year – usually discreetly to avoid attracting negative publicity for the force – involving claims such as wrongful arrest, assault or discrimination. The unit is part of a chain of command headed by a detective chief superintendent who decides whether to defend an action or settle, and provides summaries of ongoing cases to the Metropolitan Police Authority on a weekly basis.


Here are a few examples of how common sense coppers responded to these headlines. 

Inspector Gadget 

"We totally ignore all this nonsense when it arrives in our inboxes, on plastic cards or those wretched e-learning packages. Senior Management know this, but they issue the instruction anyway to show they have ‘done something’ if the wheels come off later.

We know the law allows us to arrest abusive yobs and we know we have the legal power to use handcuffs if we think it is necessary. If any officer on my team is reluctant to stand firm in the face of the withering, violent and foul abuse we suffer every day from the public, I send them to CID. It’s that simple. The other officers on the team expect me to protect them by only allowing membership to those who can cope.

If police officers stopped arresting for offences simply on the basis that the Courts are failing to do anything about it once the defendant arrives there, we wouldn’t nick anyone for anything. We know the law, we know our powers of arrest and we understand who is a threat and who is not. Sometimes officers get it wrong, but we have tens of thousands of these kinds of interactions every day and almost all of them are dealt with satisfactorily".

And a few more . . .

What's next it's ok to assualt officers
Section 5 is so last summer
C**t is no longer a fou letterword
What a load of blks

"The thin end of the wedge is something small and seemingly unimportant that will lead to something much bigger and more serious".
Were it not for the common sense application of the law by rank and file officers, (many using Common Law Breach of The Peace powers to support their Section 5 arrests), the risk averse senior officers and departments within the service would render the working copper powerless, left only to tick boxes like their seniors. Thankfully, there are many committed officers who think like Inspector Gadget. 
One of the earliest artcles from these pages looked at "The Spoiled Generation" where psychologist Dr Aric Sigman explored the erosion of discipline, respect and civility in the youth of the UK and the negaive effect it is having on society. He suggests that children & young people’s rights must be curtailed and a firm hand is urgently needed if they are to be properly guided into adulthood.

Dr Sigman accurately captures the growing sense of unease felt by a large percentage of the UK public. He said “Children of the spoilt generation are used to having their demands met by their parents and others in authority, and that in turn makes them unprepared for the realities of adult life. This has consequences in every area of society, from the classroom to the workplace, the streets to the criminal courts and rehabilitation clinics".

The police see the consequences of the "Spoiled Generation" every day on the streets of the UK.  Britain now has the highest rates of child depression, child-on-child murder, underage pregnancy, obesity, violent and anti-social behaviour and pre-teen alcoholism since records began. A 44% rise in assaults on police by children is surely a symptom of a much greater disease that will follow if not treated fast.

Respect for law and order and authority is fading rapidly as parents and schools fail in their duty to their children. The criminal justice system including the police are then just one of the groups of agencies that deal with the fall out. The empowering of children, however well intended, has served to undermine the authority of parents, teachers, police officers and other authority figures.

If the Government are to start the task of fixing our society, then surely there is no better place to start than here. By instilling some firm handed forgotten disciplines within the "spoiled sector" of our youth, there will at least be a glimmer of hope that the UK may once again be a pleasant place to live.

If it is down to politicians to start the ball rolling, we'll not hold our breath.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Plan to halve jail terms for guilty pleas scrapped

David Cameron has ordered Kenneth Clarke to scrap plans to let criminals who plead guilty have their sentences halved.

By Andrew Porter, and Tom Whitehead

The Prime Minister will announce the move today at a news conference as he attempts to regain the Tories’ reputation for being tough on law and order.
Mr Clarke, the Justice Secretary, caused controversy by disclosing last month that all criminals, including rapists, would be eligible for a possible 50 per cent sentence discount for an early guilty plea.
After crisis talks with Mr Cameron, rapists were excluded from the plan. But after a weekend of wrangling, Mr Cameron will announce that no convicted criminal will be able to get their sentences halved in this way.

Under Labour there was the option of the sentence being cut by a third for a guilty plea. That is likely to stay in place as the revised sentencing Bill is unveiled.
But it raises questions about how the Ministry of Justice will raise the £120  million savings it has promised the Treasury. (Thin Blue Line comment: 11,500 foreign nationals serving custodial sentences costing the taxpayer £35,000 each. Deport 3,429 of them and save the £120 million.... simples).

It is also understood that Mr Cameron will include plans in the Bill for a mandatory jail term for some knife offenders. Those guilty of aggravated assault with a knife will get at least six months in jail.

As leader of the Opposition, Mr Cameron set out a plan which would see a presumption of an automatic jail term for anyone convicted of a knife offence.

Under today’s plans, thousands of violent foreign criminals will escape prosecution if they promise to return home.

Migrant offenders guilty of assault, including those who attack police officers, will be offered a conditional caution so long as they leave the country. It means they will avoid the courts and the risk of a prison term with effectively little more than a “slap on the wrist”. They could still be able to apply to return to Britain after two years.

Foreign fraudsters, thieves and those caught with cocaine or heroin will also be eligible for a conditional caution under the plans. The Bill will also contain plans to remove legal aid from squatters fighting eviction while immigrants appealing against refused visa renewals will no longer be publicly funded.

The Justice Bill will allow prosecutors to hand out conditional cautions to foreign offenders for offences including assault, assault on a police officer, possession of any drug, fraud, theft, handling stolen goods and stealing a car.

Ken Clarke forced to abandon 50% sentence cuts for guilty pleas

Outcry from Tory right and tabloid press leads to scrapping of plan despite support from Lib Dems

  • The Guardian,

  • David Cameron has forced Kenneth Clarke to abandon all plans for 50% sentence discounts for early guilty pleas, after an outcry on the Tory right and in the tabloids.

    Cameron will announce the change at a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday, when the Ministry of Justice publishes its justice bill containing proposals for tougher community sentences and the introduction of a payment-by-results system to reduce prisoner reoffending.

    After an outcry, Cameron forced Clarke to withdraw plans for the discount for rapists. There had been speculation that Clarke would manage to keep 50% discounts for some lesser offences, but the justice secretary has lost that battle.

    Cameron has decided that any reduction in sentences in return for early guilty pleas would undermine his broader commitment to bring sense to sentencing.

    The current discount is a third, and an extension to 50% would have meant a big drop in the prison population. The decision will mean the Ministry of Justice has to find as much as £100m in extra savings over four years from elsewhere in its budget. Most will come from a further squeeze on probation.

    The Treasury has said it is willing to see the justice ministry change the speed at which it finds savings. No official confirmation was available from Downing Street before a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday and Cameron's press conference.

    Number 10 argues that trust in the criminal justice system is so low that it would be unable to sell a cut in sentences in return for early guilty pleas. Cameron's advisers have told him his party is losing its grip on the law and order agenda.

    The Liberal Democrat leadership, which had promised to side with Clarke, appeared to have accepted defeat. A Lib Dem source said the 50% discount was not a party policy: "We never said we would want to bring it in. We are not totally wedded to it, and it is not a big loss."

    Clarke's original green paper proposal was expected to produce savings of £210m a year by reducing the demand for prison places by 6,000. Ministry of Justice officials estimated that this would cut the record 85,000 prison population in England and Wales by 3,000 by the time of the next general election.

    Other proposals expected on Tuesday include removing the courts' option of remanding in custody defendants who are unlikely to receive a prison sentence. This would save 1,300 prison places a year. Other proposals include deporting more foreign prisoners (500 places), a new release test for those serving indeterminate sentences for public protection (300 to 600 places), and diverting mentally ill prisoners into community health treatment services (650 prison places).

    Helen Goodman, the shadow justice minister, said: "Ken Clarke's plan is to send fewer people to prison and to put more people on community sentences. This cannot work when probation trusts are taking the lion's share of the Ministry of Justice's cuts. These cuts will mean that there will be fewer probation officers monitoring fewer offenders less often."

    Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said: "From frontline policing to sentencing, we have seen promises on law and order broken by this government, which has severely damaged public trust in the justice system." He added that when it came to protecting the public, punishing and reforming offenders, supporting victims and cutting crime, he feared that the government would "fail on every count".

    The justice minister, Crispin Blunt, gave a broad hint last week that any need to find further savings in the Ministry of Justice budget as a result of changes to the sentencing package were likely to come from the courts and probation services.

    Blunt told MPs that probation had so far been "quite significantly protected" from his department's 23% budget cuts.

    The plans have provoked fierce opposition, particularly from the solicitors' organisation, the Law Society.
    One initial recommendation was to withdraw legal aid in family cases, except those involving allegations of domestic violence. Critics warned that this would provide a perverse incentive to exaggerate grievances.
    Des Hudson, the Law Society chief executive, said he feared that cuts to legal aid could be even deeper than the proposed £350m because less money may be saved by keeping people out of prison.

    He said: "This means they will come to the budget with sharpened pencils. We will not stand by and see the most vulnerable left with no access to justice."


    "The man is a fossil who is totally out of touch with both reality and the standards of the people who voted for him Camera on should sack him without delay and get someone who isn't suffering from senile dementia to do the job, that in itself is going to be a problem".

    "Plan to halve jail terms for guilty pleas scrapped - Might this have something to do with it being a cr*p idea to start with?"

    "Recent evidence on Radio 4 showed criminals who are put away on short sentences quickly reoffend - short sentences don't act as a deterrent". 

    "Why did Ken "I'm a seasoned politician therefore I know everything" Clarke ever think the public would be happy with such a stupid idea?"

    1. End the release after serving half of a sentence for good behaviour, and replace it with an increase in sentence for bad behaviour. Additionally, stop giving one third discounts for guilty pleas where the evidence against the person is overwhelming anyway.
    2. Make them work. The should pay for their own keep. If they don't work they don't eat.
    3. Get mobile phone signal blockers to stop them using smuggled in mobile phones. One of the easiest problems to solve.
    4. Root out drugs

    "We should stop trying to do justice on the cheap. Employ enough well trained prison guards to keep a system of discipline and pay them well. Stop turning a blind eye in order to pacify criminals. Make prison an unpleasant, strictly controlled environment into which no prisoner will want to return".

    "There is NO justice in letting criminals off with any percentage of their sentence.
    How long do they think the public and the police will put up with this kind of nonsense?
    Why would any police officer put their life at risk when the criminal gets off?
    Why would the public not take matters into their own hands when the criminal gets off?"

    "Is Clarke the 'Justice' minister or just out to save money? Criminals free on the streets COST US BILLIONS and we'll pay for it either in personal attacks/murder/stolen property/insurance/fearing to participate in normal daily life or through taxes to keep these creeps where they belong - in jail".  

    "Well done, Prime Minister".

    "How stupid can you get - "if they promise to return home." Home is now Britain! Sure I'd take the bus to Tooting, or Southall, or even to Rochdale. If you want me to go further, like Algeria, Jamaica, or Rumania, then I'll need a lot of 'bus fare'. But, I'll be back, British benefits are too, too, good".


    Sunday, 19 June 2011


    This cartoon will be a close reflection and sad indictment of the British Judicial system if the latest crackpot proposal from the Ministry of Justice is agreed.

    Thousands of criminals who plead guilty will have their jail terms halved under government sentencing plans, although rapists and paedophiles are to be excluded.
    The Ministry of Justice was forced to toughen up its plans after an outcry over initial proposals which indicated that all those pleading guilty could be considered for a 50 per cent reduction in their jail terms. David Cameron has already ordered Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, to rule out sentence reductions for rapists, and the Ministry of Justice has declared that paedophiles would also be barred from taking advantage of the new rules.

    Downing Street is finalising the revised policy and the Prime Minister is expected to begin an offensive in the coming days to dispel accusations that the Coalition is soft on crime. But the guidance on sentencing is still likely to mean more criminals are able to escape with shorter jail terms. Back-bench Tories are urging Mr Cameron to show he is mindful of concerns about the party’s image on law and order by ruling out reduced sentences to all but a small number.

    Thousands of serious criminals will be entitled to lower sentences if they plead guilty, with a discount of as much as 50 per cent instead of the current third.

    The latest Ministry of Justice figures show that in December last year, of nearly 85,000 offenders in jail, 7,875 were serving sentences of 12 months or less. A total of 28,427 criminals had been handed sentences of less than four years in jail.

    Figures released this week also show that the number of offenders being sent back to prison each year more than quadrupled last year from the number in 2000. More than 100,000 offenders, including killers, rapists and sex offenders, have been freed from jail only to be recalled after breaching the terms of their release over the past decade, the statistics disclose.

    Last month, MoJ data indicated that criminals given longer jail terms were less likely to reoffend than those serving shorter sentences. According to the figures, only a third of offenders given sentences of two to four years go back to crime within a year. By contrast, 43 per cent of those jailed for one to two years go on to reoffend.

    According to MOJ figures, 100,190 offenders were given immediate custodial sentences in 2009/10. Of these 70,366 were sentenced to 12 months or less, 23,153 received between 12 months and 4 years and 6,671 received 4 years or more.

    Mr Clarke said in April that he favoured increased use of community punishment sentences, providing they are “more punitive, effective and organised”. The idea forms part of his strategy to cut reoffending and reduce the prison population by 3,500 by 2015 from 85,224.

    However, Mr Clarke's position looked uncertain earlier this month as the Prime Minister retreated on plans to halve sentences for offenders pleading guilty following an outcry over cutting terms for rapists and violent offenders.

    Let us remind ourselves of extracts from the Conservative Manifesto on crime. 

    Prisons with a purpose :  In the last three years, 80,000 criminals have been released early from prison because the Labour Government failed to build enough places. We are determined that early release will not be introduced again, so we will redevelop the prison estate and increase capacity as necessary to stop it. Under Labour, the number of foreign criminals in our prisons has more than doubled. We will extend early deportation of foreign national prisoners to reduce further the pressure on our prison population.

    Many people feel that sentencing in Britain is dishonest and misleading. So we will introduce a system where the courts can specify minimum and maximum sentences for certain offenders. These prisoners will only be able to leave jail after their minimum sentence is served by having earned their release, not simply by right.
    To ensure that we have adequate space to house offenders, our plans for renewal of the prison estate will increase capacity by 5,000 places above Labour’s plans. (Perhaps someone should remind Ken Clarke of this Manifesto item!).

    We will scrap Labour’s disastrous policy of early release, and introduce honesty in sentencing. (And we'll replace it with an equally disasterous plan to halve prison sentences for guilty pleas instead!)

    Offenders will receive minimum and maximum sentences; there will be no possibility of parole before the minimum has been served, and release before the maximum point will be conditional on the prisoner’s behaviour and progress in prison. (Which all seems somewhat meaningless if pleading guilty halves the sentence!).

    The End of Custody Licence scheme is designed to make amends for Labour’s failure to build enough prison places. It led to more than 6,500 violent criminals being released back onto the streets – and at least 665 crimes have allegedly been committed by offenders who should have still been in jail.

    Nick Herbert, (then) Shadow Secretary of State for Justice:

    "Labour is giving criminals a break. They are releasing thousands of prisoners early and planning to water down sentences. We need punishment that fits the crime, enough prison places to hold all those sentenced by the courts, and a new focus on reforming offenders."
    (Hmmm.... and exactly how is the halving of sentences any better?"

    A Conservative Government will:

    • Scrap the early release scheme and build emergency prison places
    • Introduce honesty in sentencing so that convicted criminals serve a minimum sentence handed down to them by the judge
    • Ensure sufficient prison capacity to hold all those sentenced by the courts – and reform prison regimes to break the cycle of re-offending
    • Double the sentencing powers of magistrates to 12 months and repeal any new restrictions on their ability to hand down suspended sentences

    Justice? What Justice is served by halving sentences?
    Since the 15th century, Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. The blindfold represents objectivity, in that justice is or should be meted out objectively, without fear or favor, regardless of identity, money, power, or weakness; blind justice and impartiality. By halving sentences, Lady Justice is forced to turn a blind eye to these basic principles, completely ignoring the popular views of the general public.

    The public overwhelmingly supports tougher prison sentences for convicted criminals, a major poll has revealed. A report, commissioned by Lord Ashcroft, entitled ‘Crime, Punishment and the People’, is based on a poll of more than 2,000 members of the public, 1,000 victims of crime and 500 police officers.

    More than eight out of ten of those surveyed said sentencing is too soft and seven in ten called for life in prison to be much harder for inmates.

    In a major blow to Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, they also rejected proposals to increase the use of community sentences. Eight out of ten see these as a ‘soft punishment’.

    Those polled were also dismissive of attempts to rehabilitate offenders – a centrepiece of Mr Clarke’s proposals.

    Six in ten said efforts to turn criminals’ lives around ended up ‘making excuses’ for their crimes and failed to punish them properly.

    Lord Ashcroft says: ‘Most people already think the justice system does a bad job at dealing with offenders and preventing reoffending, precisely because it places too little emphasis on punishment and deterrence. The justice system must command the confidence of the public on whose behalf, and at whose expense, it operates. Such confidence is already sparse. Politically, the Conservative Party has the most to lose. A firm approach to law and order has been one of the few consistently positive aspects of the Tory brand.

    ‘The Conservatives should not need to burnish their law and order credentials, they just need to deliver on them.’

    The poll reveals widespread support for short prison sentences, while just one in five said community sentences were a good way to stop re-offending.

    Two thirds said prison life should be made harder to deter criminals from committing further crimes. Eighty one per cent said sentencing was ‘too lenient’ while just 2 per cent said it was too harsh.

    One anonymous contributor to a focus group, quoted in the report, said of prison life: ‘It’s really cushy. They have TVs in their rooms, PlayStations, a pool table, a big social room where they go and sit.

    Worryingly, more than 40 per cent of victims who did not report their crime to the police said they thought no action would be taken.

    More than a third said they thought the matter would be ‘too trivial’ for the police.

    'For the lowlife who do the burgling and mug old ladies, life in prison is better than life outside'

    Mr Clarke has promised a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ to turn offenders away from crime.

    Asked whether prison works, just 42 per cent of those polled said that it did. But 69 per cent said the answer was to make life in jail harder.

    The Independent had this to say:

    Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke wants to keep prison for the most serious offenders and cut the number of jail terms under 12 months as part of a "rehabilitation revolution" which would result in thousands of offenders avoiding jail.

    A report, by the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prison Governors' Association, said the experiences of prisoners and staff showed "the potential deterrent effect of serving a short prison sentence is lost" for repeat offenders.

    Blair Gibbs, head of crime and justice at the Policy Exchange think-tank, said: "This flawed campaign to discredit short sentences ignores the views of magistrates and crime victims who know that short prison terms are sometimes the only option.

    "Short prison sentences may not do enough to rehabilitate or even deter serial offenders but that is not a reason to scrap them.

    "They do work to prevent crime and give communities some much-needed respite and they certainly work better than most community sentences where a third are not even completed.

    "Courts need the option to use short sentences and the big problem that needs fixing is the weak and ineffective community sentences that do not protect the public or stop crime."

    A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "All sentences must punish offenders effectively as well as address the causes of their offending. Prisons need to be places of hard work, not idleness, and both prison and non-custodial sentences need to do much more to address the serious underlying causes of crime such as drug addiction and mental health. The consultation on our proposals for achieving this has closed and we will be publishing our plans shortly."
    What about your manifesto promises on crime Prime Minister?

    Mr Cameron, in your pre election manifesto, you promised to develop the prison estate and increase prison capacity by 5,000 yet Ken Clarke proposes to reduce capacity by 3,500 with his hair-brained ideas.

    You promised to scrap the Labour early release scheme, yet here you are proposing a scheme that will deliver even worse consequences for our communities, releasing recidivist criminals back into our midst serving only a fraction of the sentences imposed.

    You promised to introduce honesty in sentencing so that convicted criminals serve a minimum sentence handed down to them by the judge. Please explain how proposals to discount sentences for guilty pleas can possibly achieve this.

    You criticised Labour for releasing thousands of prisoners early and watering down sentences. Nick Herbert said "We need punishment that fits the crime, enough prison places to hold all those sentenced by the courts". Where are those promises now??

    Exactly how will releasing guilty pleading burglars, car thieves and violent offenders after serving only half their sentences support Theresa May and the police in their bid to reduce

    Implementing these proposals will hammer a further nail in the coffin of British justice. Career criminals are already laughing at the system that protects them more than the victim. These proposals, if implemented, will turn that laughter into hysterics.

    Judges and magistrates complain bitterly that they are hamstrung by sentencing guidelines that prevent them imposing sentences that adequately fit the crime. It has become a rarity to see minimum sentences dished out let alone maximum penalties that the voting public would advocate. Now you propose halving any sentences actually imposed, rendering our justic system a complete laughing stock in the eyes of the criminal fratenrnity.

    Releasing thousands of offenders after having served only half a sentence send out completely the wrong signal - that crime pays after all. How can you justify the threat to police officers pay and conditions when you will knowingly be making their job to protect our communities that much more dfficult?  How can you justify the taxes we pay towards our policing and justice whilst simultaneously encouraging the doubtless non tax paying, benefit claiming, criminals in society to remain on their path of lawlessness?

    If ever there was a barmy ill thought out idea that will surely damage our society, it is this one. 

    Friday, 17 June 2011


    Car crime fall key to historic low in crime rateOverall crime rate in England and Wales falls by 45% since 1995, with car crime down from more than 1.1m to 456,000 a year . . . 

    Alan Travis, Thursday 16 June 2011

    A dramatic and sustained fall in car crime over the past 15 years has been a major factor in the 45% drop in the overall rate for crime in England and Wales since 1995, the biggest fall since the second world war.

    The official police-recorded figures for car crime – which include stolen vehicles as well as thefts from cars and vans – have fallen from more than 1.1m a year in 1997 to 456,000 in 2010.

    In the 1990s car crime accounted for more than 20% of the overall rate of 5m offences a year. But the success of the car manufacturers in improving security has helped reduced that share to 11% of the 4.1m offences recorded by the police in 2010.

    The reductions, plus those in burglary, another high volume offence, and domestic violence, have proved the key factors in reducing crime to historic lows.

    Home Office criminologists say that the introduction of home security measures, such as alarms and window locks, and the fact that car manufacturers now fit immobilisers and other security features as standard have been crucial in reducing crime.
     But some car insurance firms claim the figures have been artificially suppressed by "misallocating" car theft statistics under house burglary, whenever an offender breaks into a home to steal the car keys.

    There seems to be a consensus that break-ins to steal keys are making up a greater proportion of burglaries – possibly up to 20%.

    Home Office figures also show that keys were used in 85% of car thefts where the method of theft was known. Of these, 37% came from burglaries and 18% from the owner leaving the keys in the car.
     But the 18,600 incidents of car-key theft for 2008 compares with a total of 160,000 cars and vans stolen that year – too small a proportion to make that much difference to the overall trend.


    Car crime has undoubtedly fallen since the days of poor security and much credit for this goes to the manufacturers, security industry and the thatcham research centre.

    However, we should not kid ourselves that it has fallen to the extent the police recorded crime (prc) suggests.

    Theresa May was so doubtful of the integrity of PRC, she commissioned the National Statistician, Jil Mattheson to conduct a review of crime statistics.

    Performance targeting within the public sector, including policing has led to the corruptive practices of "gaming" within PRC and detections process. Chief and senior officers have been paid huge bonuses to demonstrate that crime has fallen, throwing massive clouds of suspicion and doubt over the integrity of the statistics. Rank and file officers in their thousands report that figures are fudged on a daily basis to achieve this.

    If a communal dwelling block is burgled, with say 20 houses burgled and 20 cars stolen, this is reported as ONE offence.

    Car crime is typically reported as an incident NOT a crime unless the victim makes a full statement, thereby suppressing the real picture considerably.

    We witness this every day in our business providing vehicles to car theft victims.

    If a vehicle is taken without consent and recovered without damage, it will rarely be reported. If recovered with damage, it is reported as criminal damage to a vehicle which again reduces the car theft statistics.

    We have the Home office figures for the last 10 years to demonstrate how incidents are shuffled between categories to convey the impression that car theft is falling.

    Wherever possible, police record car theft as vehicle interference, a summary only offence that again reduces the numbers of car theft crimes recorded.

    When an offender serves a custodial sentence, he is interviewed to admit further offences which are treated as TIC's but without the associated court penalties. Officers will tell you that vehicle crime is the most volumous "detected" because it is the easiest to write off in this manner. Offences are reclassified at this stage, always downward to suppress the real picture.

    So whilst car theft is less prevalent than the 70's and 80's, do not be misled into believing it is to the extent that the Home Office and police media would suggest. As a retired police detective who conducts regular in depth analysis of police recorded crime and detections, I can confirm this yet another Home Office example of political spin intended to convey the impression that crime is under control.

    Sadly, vehicle crime is only one area we have highlighted, where the integrity of crime statistics and detections are in serious doubt. The regulatory bodies of ACPO/HMIC/IPCC and even the Information Commissioner have avoided their duty to expose the gaming activity for fear it will further damage public confidence, reflecting the organisational nature of this corruptive and divisive area of activity within the service.

    To be persuaded crime is going down, look at the Government figures. To be persuaded it is not, look out of the window.

    Ford Transit Remains Top Of The Thief Hit List

    Ford Transit Remains Top Of The Thief Hit List

    The Ford Transit remains at the top of a car thief’s hit list reveals the UK’s police unit dedicated to vehicle crime, the ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS).

    Thieves’ Favourites
    The workman’s favourite is the most popular vehicle to be stolen in the first quarter of 2011,* illustrating that it’s not just those with high-end vehicles that need to be wary of theft. Not only does a van such as the Ford Transit prove to be valuable in terms of spare parts or as scrap metal, but the lure of potential tools and other contents stored in the back makes it irresistible for thieves.

    “Vehicles appearing in the list may surprise motorists,” said Head of AVCIS, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Hooper. “Although high-end cars are stolen to order by criminals, those driving more affordable vehicles should not be complacent. Whatever vehicle you drive, security should always be a priority.”

    The list has been released as part of Car Crime Awareness Week, which runs 13-19 June 2011, in order to raise general awareness of vehicle crime and remind motorists to be vigilant and security-conscious.

    Top ten stolen vehicles in Q1 2011

    1) Ford Transit
    2) Vauxhall Astra

    3) Ford Fiesta

    4) Volkswagen Golf

    5) Vauxhall Corsa

    6) BMW 3 Series

    7) Ford Focus

    8) Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

    9) Ford Mondeo

    10) Honda Civic

    As part of Car Crime Awareness Week, AVCIS is advising motorists to follow these guidelines to prevent their vehicles from being targeted by criminals:

    • Ensure that car keys are not left in sight within your house: thieves often fish keys through letterboxes and open windows

    • If you have a garage, store your car there whenever possible

    • With the summer months approaching, people often leave doors and windows open: ensure your keys aren’t easily accessible for opportunist thieves, but equally do not hide them and put yourself at risk of harm from a determined thief

    • Lock your car whenever you leave it. Even if you are simply unloading the car, make sure that you remove the keys and lock the vehicle. If your car is stolen through these means if often invalidates your insurance
    *1 January – 31 March 2011 AVCIS data on file

    Almost 9,000 vehicles across the UK were stolen in just 36 days at the beginning of 2011, reports the Association of Chief Police Officers Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS).

    The statistics have been revealed ahead of AVCIS’ Car Crime Awareness Week, which takes place on 13-19 June 2011. The initiative aims to raise the public’s awareness of vehicle crime methods in order to drive down offences.

    This new data illustrates that 50 per cent of thefts were made when a vehicle was left at the owner’s home address or close by, including 17.6 per cent through the burglary of properties to obtain car keys.
     A third were stolen when vehicles were away from the home and four per cent of crimes during the 36 day sample were made by opportunist thieves, where keys were left in or within easy reach of the vehicle. Shockingly, this would mean that annually 3,400 thefts could be easily prevented through heightened awareness.
     “These figures demonstrate that vehicle crime continues to be an issue across the UK,” said Detective Chief Inspector Mark Hooper, Head of AVCIS. “Criminals will use a variety of means to steal cars, from towing them away or simply driving them off when owners leave the keys in the ignition to burgling houses and sophisticated attacks on manufacturers’ security systems.

    “Our aim is to increase general awareness, including encouraging motorists to take simple precautions and advise manufacturers of criminals’ methods so they can continue to help drive down vehicle crime.

    In the lead up and during Car Crime Awareness Week AVCIS will release information on the current state of vehicle crime relating to freight vehicles, agricultural equipment, caravans and motorhomes, as well as to the general motorist.
     For more information on vehicle crime and AVCIS visit  or the Car Crime Awareness Week Facebook page  .

    UK lost or stolen vehicles 1 January 2011 – 5 February 2011
    (36 day sample*)

    Number & Method of theft

    • 2,916 (33%) Home address or vicinity where the owner claims to have the keys
    • 2,824 (32%) Unattended away from the home where the owner claims to have the keys
    • 1,555 (17.6%) Car key burglary
    • 1,037 (11.7%) Unrecorded details/unconfirmed loss/vehicle not stolen
    • 342 (3.9%) Unattended with keys
    • 98 (1.1%) Direct robbery of vehicle
    • 54 (0.6%) Acquired by fraud

    *Statistics have been generated from the Police National Computer using keywords. Additional offences may have occurred and are not identified within this report.

    Tuesday, 7 June 2011


    Home Office will consider report into restoring trust in crime figures.

    Following a request by the Home Secretary to help promote greater public trust in crime statistics, the National Statistician has published her report.
    Recommendations from Jil Matheson's independent review include:
    • the Office for National Statistics should take responsibility for the independent reporting and publication of crime statistics
    • presentation of crime statistics should be improved to provide clarity about the coverage of the two different sources: the British Crime Survey and police recorded crime
    • there should be transparent decision-making on changes that affect the published crime statistics
    Bold action

    Policing and criminal justice minister Nick Herbert said: 'We have always said bold action needs to be taken to restore trust in crime statistics and that is why we asked the National Statistician to conduct this comprehensive review.

    'She has produced a number of recommendations — we will now be considering these and will respond in due course.'

    To download or read a copy of the report click here.

    What a dispappointing report.

    Having downloaded a copy, it is clear that the ONS are not of a mind to open the can of worms that really undermines the integrity of police statistics, the various forms of "gaming" (deceitful manipulation) that remain prevalent in forces.


    With Crime Statistics 80% is hidden below the surface

    I deliberately held back publishing the latest in my series “Crime Of The Century – The Scandal of Police Detections” until Ms Mattheson published her report. Whilst pleased to be included in the appendices of contributors (under our company name Nice 1 Ltd), I am extremely disappointed that she did not show the courage to face this problem head on.

    Until they address this issue, the statistics will remain nothing more than a Chief Constables tool for suggesting performance is improving (which it categorically is not).

    Having analysed numerous comments from the rank and file referring to the various forms of gaming in play today it was not difficult to spot patterns of deceitful practices that produce the illusory effect of crime decreasing and detections improving. The report will show evidence of how forces persist in manipulating the numbers. The 28% detection rate banded about by the Home Office is complete and utter tripe. Things like Cannabis possession make up about 7% of total detections. Then there is the scam on volume crime under reporting which reflects a dramatic decline in this area. Our forthcoming report will expose crime and detection statistics for the seriously flawed process that it truly has become.

    This is indeed the crime of the century, perpetrated or at the very least condoned by many (but not all) Chief Officers and their management teams and endorsed by politicians and alleged regulatory bodies for their own perverse reasons.

    Here are just a few of the topics we will cover in our report in greater detail.

    • "False Reporting Policies" introduced by police forces set out to reduce the snowballing number of mobile telephones reported as stolen, when in fact many were lost or merely damaged, enabling owners to claim replacements. This well-intended policy was massively abused by forces that subsequently extended the practice to all acquisitive or volume crime, resulting in a massive suppression of recorded crime.

    • Simple cannabis possession dealt with by way of fixed penalty notices is being used by forces to massively inflate detection rates, (in some forces by as much as 8%), to the detriment of investigation of more serious matters.

    • "Easy Win" detections are being chased by forces to the detriment of more serious crime. Such matters might include playground squabbles and domestic arguments where previously, the police would not have become involved. Many thousands of such offences are being investigated at the expense of serious matters more deserving of police investigation. All in pursuit of the Chief Officers aims to increase detections whatever the cost.

    • The easy win detections have seen changes in deployment strategies in forces, where teams of officers are assigned to middle class areas, away from the true crime inner cities where more serious, more difficult to resolve crimes are being committed. Otherwise law abiding folk are being criminalised at the expense of the senior management detection rush.

    • Crime reduction and detection increases have been linked to Chief Officer bonuses. (Up to 15% on top of £140k per year packages). This cannot be ethical, linking performance to financial incentives in policing.

    • Offences that cause most public concern are frequently reclassified as lesser offences to dilute the serious nature of the reality in the communities, fraudulently attempting to allay public concern.

    • Various "fiddle" strategies are employed to suppress the recording of crime, recording as an incident that should ultimately be crimed, but does not happen. Recording incidents in unofficial registers to keep crimes off the books is another discovered practice.

    • Batching multiple offences with multiple victims as one crime with others associated to it. However, if a detection is likely, all offences are crimed separately so that the requisite number of detections can be claimed.

    • Despite protestations to the contrary, offenders are still visited in prison and encouraged to admit offences under the auspices of being "taken into consideration", when in fact the matters subject of these admissions are rarely put anywhere near a court. These "TIC's" can be converted into "detections" to further inflate the force detection percentage. We will show you the forces most active in this area, the offences most commonly marked up as detected, the many thousands of incidents that totally undermine the primary detections achieved by rank and file officers.

    • There are various methods of detection or disposal avalable to the police. Juggling lesser offences in between cautions, PND's (fixed penalties), TIC's and a spurious category called "Other" enables forces to conjure up whatever detection rate they wish to present to the world.

    • Officers have reported that in many cases where the evidence is insufficient to gain a successful outcome at court, offenders will accept a caution, PND or TIC so as not to run the risk of attending court and being convicted.
     • Officers report that processes permitted writing off detections to offenders without either their knowledge or that of the victim. This breach of data protection was subsequently discovered and concealed from the public by ACPO the IPCC, HMIC and the Information Commissioner, for fear of the harm it might do to public confidence in policing.
     • Officers were highly critical of the perceived duplicity of higher police management who were accused of issuing grand statements about the importance of police integrity but of ignoring the threats to integrity presented by the pressure they put on officers to achieve sanction detection targets. This corroborates the suspicion that the corruption involved in the activities is more on an institutional level than individual.
     • The general perception from officers is that they work for an organisation that:

    • Is concentrating on easily-detected offences in order to achieve sanction detection targets;

    • Is losing its integrity because of the tactics it encourages police officers to use to achieve these detections;
     • Is headed by SMTs, most members of which no longer care about the victims of serious crime.
     • Whilst they make public statements about being victim-centred and caring for communities, they are accused of colluding with the Government and playing performance games to mislead the public into thinking that the crime problem is being addressed successfully; and
     • No longer wants, values and resources good-quality criminal investigations which lead to convictions unless the crimes in question are high profile, critical incidents.

    You will find no reference to "statistical gaming", "cooking the books" or "fudging the figures" in the National Statisticians review. This suggests that the integrity of the existing systems have not been questioned. If any credence is to be given to future effort in this area, this must be faced square on and the procedures of every force rigorously scrutinised. 

    Previous HMIC inspections revealed doubtful practices, but this was the tip of the iceberg. Whilst acknowledging the sterling efforts of the HMIC, the organisation will be seen as non independent and the suspicion will always pervade that dubious activites will not be exposed, nor those responsible brought to account.

    Unless Jil Mattheson has consulted privately with Theresa May and Nick Herbert over the need to "Clean up the act" of gaming within the service, any future effort in this direction will be undermined and wasted. It's all very well presenting statistics independently, but if the source data is suspect or of doubtful integrity, then the end result will be subject to yet further criticism.


    Until this is sorted, any Government will be able to manipulate the media to print nonsense about the numbers to their own ends. The service will suffer as a result. If continued improvement is continually reported, what incentive is there to allocate more funds to needy parts of the service?

    Then there is the confidence issue. Without a root and branch clear out of the deceptive practices our report outlines, the public confidence will slide further downhill and rank and file morale will dip still further as it witnesses official bodies doing diddly squat to put things right.

    Policing and criminal justice minister Nick Herbert said: 'We have always said bold action needs to be taken to restore trust in crime statistics and that is why we asked the National Statistician to conduct this comprehensive review. She has produced a number of recommendations — we will now be considering these and will respond in due course.'

    Indeed Nick, bold and even courageous action is needed now. If any semblance of credibility and faith is to be restored to crime statistics, this pernicious and corrupt activity must be rooted out. The rank and file officers and tax paying public expect no less. Whatever dispute they may have over pay and conditions, if officers are to serve with confidence  they must feel that something is being done to wipe out the immorality within this part of the job they love. Restore the integrity both to them and the process they are forced to administer. Don't expect transparency and honesty from ACPO and the senior ranks. They will deny any mens rea "guilty knowledge" and undoubtedly shift the blame downhill. However, it is clear, that the Chief Officers concerned will have in some way, been complicit or at the very least, will have turned a blind eye to how the richly rewarded performance has been achieved. 

    Prove to the rank and file that your word is good. Prove to us all that you truly want a transparent and honest crime recording system. Show us that you are not afraid to discover corrupt activities that conceal corrupted crime figures for heaven knows how many years. It will undoubtedly involve revelations and contraversy, but most of this emanated from the performance targeting of the previous administration, so why fear the outcome? A clean slate is needed now. To do otherwise will undermine the future efforts of Jil Mattheson, her department, and indeed the team led by Theresa May and yourself. 

    Look out for the report out on these pages soon.

    Best regards

    Thin Blue Line UK

    Other Thin Blue Line articles about crime statistics:-

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