Police Scotland wave the white flag on crime: Fury as force admits it WON’T investigate every offence reported to them in controversial soft-justice pilot scheme savaged as ‘shabby surrender to criminals’
- Scottish officers have been told not to follow up minor crimes such as break-ins
- Police Scotland said the trial would free time to focus on ‘more pressing issues’
Police will no longer investigate every crime reported to them under controversial new soft-touch justice plans.
Rank-and-file officers have been told not to follow up on minor crimes such as some break-ins and thefts where there are no leads or CCTV evidence.
But last night critics condemned the proposals and accused the SNP of a ‘shabby surrender to criminals’ after imposing sustained cuts on the Police Scotland budget.
The plans are part of a project being piloted in the North-East, although there are concerns it could be rolled out across the country.
Police Scotland said the trial would free up time for officers to focus on responding to ‘more pressing issues’ and stressed that ‘hard choices’ were being made in order to deliver effective policing within its stretched budget.
Scottish Tory justice spokesman Russell Findlay said: ‘The SNP Government’s decision to impose severe and sustained cuts on police budgets has depleted policing across Scotland, with the fewest number of officers since 2008′
Police Scotland said the trial would free up time for officers to focus on responding to ‘more pressing issues’
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The announcement comes after Home Secretary Suella Braverman said every theft in England and Wales must be investigated.
Last night, Scottish Tory justice spokesman Russell Findlay said: ‘The SNP Government’s decision to impose severe and sustained cuts on police budgets has depleted policing across Scotland, with the fewest number of officers since 2008.
‘Police Scotland should be applauded for being so candid about the reality of their predicament, but communities deserve better than the SNP’s weak approach to justice and shabby surrender to criminals.’
He added: ‘Ministers must be up front with the public about whether this policy will potentially be rolled out elsewhere in Scotland.’
Police Scotland last night said it would ‘absolutely continue to investigate all crime types and respond to local concerns where there is threat, harm, risk and vulnerability.’
One example of a case where no further action might be taken, it said, would be a garden theft with no CCTV or eye-witness evidence.
The force said it was ‘testing a different approach to the way certain incidents are managed’ when they are reported.
It said: ‘We want to give police officers more time to focus on proportionate lines of inquiry, responding to emergencies and keeping people safe from harm.
‘On some occasions, crimes are reported where there is no associated threat, risk, harm or vulnerability and also no proportionate lines of inquiry for local police officers to investigate.
‘When this happens, our staff will inform the caller that the inquiry has been recorded and a crime reference number will be supplied, but no further action will be taken.’
Police Scotland last night said it would ‘absolutely continue to investigate all crime types and respond to local concerns where there is threat, harm, risk and vulnerability’
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Former Police Scotland superintendent Brian Cook described it as ‘a truly sad day for policing in Scotland’.
He said: ‘We’ve seen how this developed south of the Border, leading to public dismay and disenchantment with the service. It has now resulted in a rebuke from the Home Secretary there and the Met having to change course.
‘The absolute fundamentals are being eroded. If you abandon the investigation of crime, you effectively abandon deterrence, and if you abandon deterrence you abandon the very reason officers guard, watch and patrol.’
Mr Cook added: ‘For me there is no such thing as “petty” or minor crime.’
Age Scotland said it was vital that anyone contacting the police had their concerns taken seriously.
Adam Stachura, the charity’s head of policy and communications, said: ‘Older people, like everyone else, need to be confident that they will get an appropriate response if they call the police to report a crime that puts them or others in danger.
‘Anyone reporting a crime and receiving a poor response or not feeling that they are being taken seriously could be put off calling the police again in the future.’
Mr Stachura added: ‘It is sad to see that this project has come about because of financial constraints rather than the primary goal of improving overall community safety.’
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur said police were being forced into having to make ‘terrible choices’ because the Scottish Government expected them to do ‘so much with so little for so long’.
He added: ‘The SNP’s botched centralisation of policing and brutal cuts have hit officer and staff numbers hard.’
Pauline McNeill, Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman, described it as a ‘damning sign of how stretched police services are under the SNP’. She said it was ‘staggering that things have reached this point’.
Ms McNeill said that ‘instead of giving some crimes a free pass, the SNP must work with Police Scotland to ensure they can cope and keep our communities safe’.
Chief Superintendent Graeme Mackie, divisional commander for the North-East, said: ‘The pilot process will enable local police officers to focus on those crimes that have proportionate lines of inquiry and potentially enable them to give more time to local concerns and priorities in the area.’
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘While these decisions are a matter for the Chief Constable, it is vital Police Scotland continues to inspire public trust and maintains relationships with local communities.
‘This will be crucial when the results of this pilot are examined to ensure local priorities continue to be met with no detriment to communities. The Scottish Government has increased police funding year-on-year since 2016-17, investing more than £11.6billion since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013, despite difficult financial circumstances due to UK Government austerity.’
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