Good Police Work

Good Police Work

Police Target Criminals

The vast majority of serious criminal offences are committed by known criminals rather than by previously law abiding people.

A number of British police forces are concentrating on their known criminals to reduce crime. To discourage crime over Christmas 2010, in the first week of December 2010 Greater Manchester Police raided 224 properties, arresting 809 people. They seized £230,000 in cash, which averages more than £1,000 a property.

Is there £1,000 cash in your home as you read this? How did poor and generally unemployed people happen to have that much cash in their homes?

A Christmas Message

In the same week Greater Manchester Police also visited 878 known criminals currently on parole or on bail to make sure they were living in accordance with the conditions of their parole or bail. They delivered a Christmas Card from the police force with the message “Don’t be a pudding this Christmas” – in other words do not commit offences and find yourself in prison over Christmas.

These two actions brought to the notice of over 1,600 regular criminals that the police are aware of and interested in their criminal life styles. The population of Greater Manchester is roughly 2.6 million people.

Part of a Program

Greater Manchester Police have pioneered policing in this decade.

One activity was a statistical analysis of exactly where violent robberies were taking place, plotted on a map to the nearest foot. This disclosed that there were “hot spots” for violent robbery. It was then worthwhile staking out the hottest spots to catch the perpetrators committing offences. The muggers were prolific offenders, so the police did not have to wait long.

The police strategy is to change the criminals’ perceptions of risk.  If a criminal thinks they will not get caught, then heavy sentences are not much of a deterrent. If the criminal thinks there is a high chance of getting caught, then most of them will not commit this proposed offence. The police are trying to persuade the criminals that offending is just not worth it.

Greater Manchester Police have a strategy of concentrating on a particular kind of crime, and conducting mass raids against known offenders in a locality or city wide. In a six month period during 2010 they brought down robbery 21%, vehicle related crime 24%, and burglary nearly 10%.

The impact of a large number of arrests happening in a short space of time makes every perpetrator who is not arrested aware that they have been lucky this time. The police message is that if you choose to be a career criminal your career is going to be uncomfortable.

Civil Liberties

There is an argument that concentrating on people who have committed offences in the past is unfair. They should stand equal with every other citizen in the privacy and integrity of their homes. They are entitled to a private life.

The raids are “intelligence led”, in the sense that occasional offenders were not targeted – only those known to be prolific offenders. There was enough “intelligence” to justify search warrants, and enough stolen goods or hard to explain cash found in the properties to justify the arrests. Taking active and prolific offenders off the street does a lot to reduce crime.

If you are not a prolific active offender you will not be raided, and your civil liberties will not be infringed, Arresting criminals does not infringe their civil liberties. Reducing crime helps the civil liberties of everyone else.

Good Use of Public Money

The idea of the policeman walking his beat, and chatting to the general public, is a concept dear to the British. It arises from TV programs over 50 years ago.

Intelligent policing that tries to deter crime and to target the worst offenders is a good use of public money. It is here to stay.

This does not mean that a criminal will always be caught. That never happened under the old system either. Concentrating on the prolific criminals works, and will continue