Staffordshire Police are wasting time on some crimes 'creating something out of nothing', say top brass
POLICE officers will be told to investigate fewer reported crimes to end a 'box-ticking' culture and help them spend more time on the beat.
Staffordshire Police's Chief Constable Mike Cunningham and elected Police Commissioner Matthew Ellis say officers are wasting time 'creating something out of nothing' because of pressure to meet targets on pressing charges.
Mr Ellis said he would 'take the rap' for an increase in the number of reported crimes which are listed as undetected or not investigated – provided the incidents have a satisfactory resolution for victims.
Officers will be given the green light to drop more potential criminal cases – including playground scuffles and drunken fights between close friends – if both injured parties say they do not want to press charges.
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It could also lead to an increase in 'community resolutions' which include victims of low level criminal damage agreeing to drop complaints if the perpetrators help clear up. Mr Ellis, elected as Conservative PCC in November, said: "One of officers' main concerns has been they are spending a lot of time creating something out of nothing to tick a box.
"Take the example of a couple of drunken people who have fisticuffs at night. That is reported as a crime, and it goes against the police as an undetected crime, even after they wake up and decide neither of them wants to pursue it. I'd rather take the rap for a lower detection rate if we could have another column in the table which shows there has been a successful resolution."
The approach has been backed by Mr Cunningham.
He said: "There is the example of two drunken people fighting and causing injury to each other. If that takes place on the street the public may consider it appropriate for those people to be charged, irrespective of what they say. But there may be other cases, such as kids in a playground, where it is not in the public interest to charge those people in order to have a sanction or a judicial outcome. It is also not worth officers following it through just to a tick the box."
Andy Adams, chairman of Staffordshire Police Federation, which represents beat officers, said: "We shouldn't put anybody off reporting anything they believe is a crime but we need to look at it proportionately.
"At the moment officers are mindful of targets and have been for some time, but the PCC says he wants to move away from that culture.
"Some things have to be investigated, but sometimes people report a crime when they are angry and later on they decide that they did the same thing when they were a kid and don't want to take it further. It shouldn't be about figures. Cops have enough to deal with."