David Taylor, who was a police officer for 30 years, offers an insight into the handling of ‘minor’ crimes, while Ann Kelly and Caroline Ley reflect on the language used by ministers and the media
Having been a police officer for 30 years, serving as a detective inspector and in the police complaints arena, I can say officers and staff nationwide will have been horrified by the murder of Sarah Everard (Sarah Everard’s killer might have been identified as threat sooner, police admit, 30 September). The approach of all police forces, not just the Met, as to how they deal with “minor crime” is now under scrutiny. Such crime is only considered “minor” by the police and not by the victim, otherwise they wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of reporting it.
While every day many officers and staff successfully conduct criminal investigations and go the extra mile for victims, this is not the case for all; you only have to report a crime considered by the police to be “low level” to realise this. Each crime is assessed based on its seriousness and its solvability, often by desk-based staff under pressure to file the case without further investigation. This “don’t look too close” approach means any evidence that potentially exists is not pursued or is ignored. In my experience, too many police officers and staff lack investigative professional curiosity, compounded by the fact that there is often a complete lack of challenge from first-line supervisors towards staff they consider as their mates, or where such scrutiny could attract accusations of bullying.