Thursday, April 27, 2006

Missed it, but never mind...

...the whole 'Dispatches' programme went over my head today, for I was doing actual police work whilst it was on. Having read around, though, the show would be more aptly titled 'Despatches', because of the likely knock-on effects, if not for Hobson herself but for her ex-colleagues.

I spent most of today around an area notorious for a huge spate of Burglary Dwellings, which has been a severe thorn in our collective sides of late. Everything logical and rational that we've tried has failed to curb the epidemic. We locked up people who were wanted for burglary and found in that area, but still the crimes were happening. We arrested people we'd occasionally find caught in the act, but with limited success on the actual crime figures. We've had plain clothes operations in place, high visibility preventative patrols and have paid as much attention to the area as our very limited resources allow, at the times in which the offences are usually committed, yet still the offenders are eluding us. Personally I'm down there whenever I'm free and speak to anyone even remotely suspicious or out of place (who are suprisingly compliant after explaining the reasons why). It's infuriating, as we've put as much effort as we possibly can into this, yet are not stopping the problem entirely.

Personally I think the people committing it are not from (or at least don't live on) the area, but know the area well. The MO in terms of what is stolen reads like a standard burglary job - small yet valuable items that are easily concealable and transportable (digital cameras; laptops; jewellery etc.), so it's unlikely that places are being targetted for property that is being stolen to order, which probably rules out organised groups. With limited resources, we simply cannot put officers out there, either in plain clothes or uniform, 24/7, and since the times the jobs come in seem to vary, with different MOs, it's either different offenders, or an unusually clever burglar who is deliberately scattering the times and MOs so as to keep us on our toes.

My suggested solution is to vastly improve the limited CCTV coverage of the area. When a burglary does occur, footage for the previous hour or so before the burglary, and the 5 or 10 minutes immediately after should be pulled off the system and trawled through, hopefully yielding at least a few shots of the likely culprit(s). The images can then be circulated on our division and elsewhere, with the hope that an eagle-eyed officer will recognise and identify the person/people involed, whom we can then retrieve a list of their known addresses, associates and other intelligence and then pick up. It's labour-intensive but if it brings about the cessation of these burglaries it will be time and money well spent.

I sometimes take it quite personally if I've been working in an area in which a crime has been committed whilst I was nearby. Even if the reality is that there was nothing more I could have done to either prevent the crime or apprehend the offender, I am beset with a feeling of frustration and a sense of futility in my ability to do the job, which usually spurs me on with a renewed determination to get the reprobates who are making people's lives a misery. Unfortunately, as I'm usually on foot in the area it limits my potential effectiveness and deployability - I can just do the best I'm able to. It will pay off sooner or later.

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I have a fair idea now for which force you work. I may indeed work the same.
I'm a big fan of 24 and I think it's great then when they lose a suspect, then can somehow pick them up on cctv/traffic cam and can follow them all the way using CCTV. Why is life not like that?
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