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RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: We must stop giving burglars a licence to steal – Daily Mail

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The Metropolitan Police are openly admitting there are thousands of crimes which are simply not worth investigating. From their point of view, that is.

Scotland Yard call it ‘crime screening’. All reported incidents will be given points out of five, based on the likelihood of successful detection and conviction.

Any crime which rates less than three will not be followed up. Crimes which affect Londoners daily, such as burglary, get low priority . . .

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While top cops whine about dwindling ‘resources’, they have blown millions on a succession of wild goose chases, without anyone ever taking responsibility. Yet when it comes to putting bobbies on the beat or investigating burglary, they plead poverty [File photo]

While top cops whine about dwindling ‘resources’, they have blown millions on a succession of wild goose chases, without anyone ever taking responsibility. Yet when it comes to putting bobbies on the beat or investigating burglary, they plead poverty [File photo]

No, not this week’s front page news. It’s taken from a commentary written by me for London’s Evening Standard, dated April 14, 1988.

For the first time, the Yard had confessed to ‘screening out’ thousands of common crimes, from muggings to thefts from cars.

There was quite an outcry. I can remember ringing up the recently retired senior policeman John Stalker for a comment.

Stalker, former deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester, was something of a celebrity back then. He was best known for conducting a high-profile inquiry into an alleged ‘shoot to kill’ policy by the old Royal Ulster Constabulary.

No matter how much money the Government throws at the police, nothing will change until there is a complete overhaul of the culture at the top. And even if they can be persuaded to take burglary seriously at last, it’s 30-odd years too late [File photo]

No matter how much money the Government throws at the police, nothing will change until there is a complete overhaul of the culture at the top. And even if they can be persuaded to take burglary seriously at last, it’s 30-odd years too late [File photo]

He had reinvented himself as a law and order pundit and went on to present his own television show, Crime Stalker, ITV’s answer to the BBC’s Crimewatch, which eventually led to a lucrative, pension-enhancing gig advertising remote-controlled garage doors.

The day I called, his wife answered the phone. She asked me to hang on a minute while she fetched him from the garden shed, where he was writing his memoirs.

Funny how these daft little details stick in the memory — especially, when half the time I can’t remember what happened last week.

Anyway, I digress. Stalker told me that the Yard was merely institutionalising something which had been common practice for at least two decades.

Not that he approved of it. Stalker, an old-school copper, thought that ignoring crimes such as burglary would seriously erode public confidence in the police.

There’s no point Boris hiring 20,000 extra coppers if they’re all going to be deployed sitting in front of computer screens scouring the net for ‘inappropriate’ language. Or seconded to specialist units tasked with trying to establish whether a former disc-jockey stroked a woman’s knee sometime in the 1970s [File photo]

So he would undoubtedly have been horrified by the Mail’s revelation that hundreds of thousands of crimes are now being written off within 24 hours of being reported.

The Met shelves 36 per cent of incidents inside a day, including more than half of all thefts and burglaries. In Greater Manchester, Stalker’s old force, the figure is 27 per cent.

Police chiefs say it’s simply a question of priorities. A Met spokesman said: ‘We need our officers to be focused on serious crime and cases where there is a reasonable chance we may be able to solve it.’

But Caroline Goodwin, of the Criminal Bar Association, said: ‘How serious does having your house burgled have to be before it crosses the threshold for investigation?’

As this newspaper pointed out yesterday, burglary is one of the most distressing crimes, wrecking lives and destroying the sense of security to which we should all be entitled in our own homes.

It’s tempting to lay all the blame at the door of Mother Theresa, a shockingly bad Home Secretary who also scrapped stop and search — a disastrous decision directly responsible for the current knife crime epidemic

It’s tempting to lay all the blame at the door of Mother Theresa, a shockingly bad Home Secretary who also scrapped stop and search — a disastrous decision directly responsible for the current knife crime epidemic

By screening out crimes, often without so much as a cursory glance, the police are effectively giving criminals a licence to steal — secure in the knowledge that not only will they never get caught, but no one will even bother looking for them.

Police chiefs point out in their defence that budgets have been cut and the number of officers has fallen. That’s undoubtedly true.

It’s tempting to lay all the blame at the door of Mother Theresa, a shockingly bad Home Secretary who also scrapped stop and search — a disastrous decision directly responsible for the current knife crime epidemic.

The truth is, however, that this has been going on for decades. And that’s the fault of the new breed of politicised managers-cum-social workers infesting the upper ranks of the modern constabulary.

It is, indeed, a question of priorities. The priorities of most senior police chiefs are not those of the paying public, or even those of their own officers.

I hear from plenty of coppers and know that they’d much rather be out on the beat, preventing crime.

Instead, far too often, routine patrols are relegated in favour of sitting in front of CCTV monitors or trawling the internet in search of fashionable ‘hate crimes’.

Yes, police numbers have fallen by 20,000 since 2010 — a shortfall Boris Johnson is promising to make good. 

But that doesn’t stop the Old Bill rounding up a sizeable posse when the mood takes them. 

Look at the dozens of officers they sent to ransack the homes of former Home Secretary Leon Brittan and war hero Lord Bramall as part of the deranged Paedos In High Places operation.

Or the hundreds switched from front-line duties, such as the murder squad, to prosecute innocent journalists simply doing their job or ruin the lives of blameless celebrities falsely accused of ‘historic’ sex abuse in the wake of the Jimmy Savile affair.

While top cops whine about dwindling ‘resources’, they have blown millions on a succession of wild goose chases, without anyone ever taking responsibility.

Yet when it comes to putting bobbies on the beat or investigating burglary, they plead poverty.

Back in 1988, they also claimed that they were motivated by making the most of the money and manpower at their disposal.

The Met originally instituted their formal screening out process after what was considered to be a successful pilot scheme at Carter Street police station in South London. 

You won’t be surprised to learn that Carter Street nick closed in 1993, just one of countless High Street police stations shut down in the name of efficiency. 

By screening out crimes, often without so much as a cursory glance, the police are effectively giving criminals a licence to steal — secure in the knowledge that not only will they never get caught, but no one will even bother looking for them [File photo]

By screening out crimes, often without so much as a cursory glance, the police are effectively giving criminals a licence to steal — secure in the knowledge that not only will they never get caught, but no one will even bother looking for them [File photo]

Not long after my nearest nick closed, someone seeking help was stabbed to death on its front steps.

The day we moved into our house in North London 22 years ago, the local beat bobby knocked on the door and introduced himself.

I made him a cup of tea and said I looked forward to seeing him again. Unfortunately, he explained, it was his last week. The neighbourhood patrol was being wound up and he was being transferred to a large police station several miles away.

Shortly afterwards, we were burgled. No one was ever caught.

There’s no point Boris hiring 20,000 extra coppers if they’re all going to be deployed sitting in front of computer screens scouring the net for ‘inappropriate’ language.

Or seconded to specialist units tasked with trying to establish whether a former disc-jockey stroked a woman’s knee sometime in the 1970s.

No matter how much money the Government throws at the police, nothing will change until there is a complete overhaul of the culture at the top.

And even if they can be persuaded to take burglary seriously at last, it’s 30-odd years too late.

Make mine a large VAT, Dave!

Call Me Dave is still struggling to come to terms with how and why he lost the referendum.

‘Nearly every voice that should have mattered backed our case. The voice of our main industries: cars, aircraft, trains, food, pharmaceuticals, farming, fashion, film.

‘The voice of business: the CBI. The voice of many workers: the TUC. Our allies around the world: America, India, Japan, Australia, Canada.

‘The multilateral bodies of the world: the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In his memoirs, Dave reveals that his wife Sam needed a stiff slug of gin at 8am to cope with Brexit. Don’t we all, dear!

In his memoirs, Dave reveals that his wife Sam needed a stiff slug of gin at 8am to cope with Brexit. Don’t we all, dear!

‘Thirteen Nobel Prize winners. The head of the NHS. The former heads of MI5 and MI6. The head of the Church of England. Nine out of ten economists . . . ’

No prizes for guessing the missing voice he failed to take into account: the British people themselves.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that three-and-a-half years later, we’re still waiting for the political class to honour Cameron’s promise to respect the result of the referendum and implement our decision.

In his memoirs, Dave reveals that his wife Sam needed a stiff slug of gin at 8am to cope with Brexit. Don’t we all, dear!

Labour’s Stop Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer has convinced himself that he’s the obvious choice to become Prime Minister in a Government of National Unity.

So we vote Leave and get a pro-Remain Max Headroom lookalike in No 10, dedicated to overturning the referendum result. 

Funny how this ‘defending democracy’ business is working out.

Kirsten Dunce

The Lib Dem candidate for North Devon, Kirsten Johnson, has revealed that she thinks the constituents she seeks to represent are too white and don’t travel enough to meet members of ethnic minorities.

Asked by a local radio station why so many of them voted Leave, she burbled something about hate crime.

I don’t think we’ll be seeing her at Westminster any time soon.  

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