Police need to get tough and really mean it

PUBLISHED: 16:16 24 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:28 06 May 2010

POLICE need to get tough and really mean it according to a former senior officer in the Herts force who is now a district councillor. Independent councillor for Redbourn, Tony Swendell, has written to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in the wake of new statis

POLICE need to get tough and really mean it according to a former senior officer in the Herts force who is now a district councillor.

Independent councillor for Redbourn, Tony Swendell, has written to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in the wake of new statistics which show a fall in reported crime in many counties including Herts.

He maintains that most people find reporting crime a waste of time and no longer bother and that the vast majority of reported crime does not get investigated.

Yet from his experience, reported crime needs to be thoroughly investigated because the majority appears to be carried out by a relatively small group of people and detecting one offence and dealing with those responsible results in a real drop in crime.

He said: "The lack of officers and the woeful absence of investigative experience due to reorganisation after reorganisation have led to the public being utterly confused about what the police do."

He cited two reports of arson in Harpenden and the theft of a credit card from an elderly woman in hospital, all reported in the Herts Advertiser in the past few weeks, as testimony to the lack of investigation.

Cllr Swendell admits that cascading Government initiatives have forced the police service to become disjointed and unsure of what their job is.

He said: "One minute they are being asked to strongly enforce the law, stop and search everything that moves, crush anti-social behaviour and the next to work in partnership with the very communities they have been heavily enforcing the law in - all the while meeting whatever the Government's latest target is."

He believes that too many senior officers are now crammed into various police headquarters buildings up and down the country where they work very sociable hours, five days a week. Instead, he maintains, they should be put back on to shift work where they would made a real difference leading, motivating, training and generally supporting a young and inexperienced police service.

Cllr Swendell also criticises the Criminal Justice System which he describes as totally dysfunctional with judges clearly at odds with the Government and magistrates urged to be extremely lenient.

And he maintains the problem of jails being overfull should have been resolved long ago. He said: "It may not be the perfect answer but it does take some very nasty people out of circulation, it protects those in our communities that are likely to be the victims of crime and properly used and financed, there is the opportunity for those that want to straighten themselves out to do so."

He added: "To comply with government targets, the police use warnings, cautions and fixed penalty tickets as standard resolutions to crime, none of which are effective and have no effect whatsoever on crime prevention or deter offending.

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