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The Press – News Column April 7

Sluggish Police Response

How would you feel if you were the victim of a crime, and after doing all the spadework handed police the evidence of the perpetrator’s identity, only for the police to park it up? The past week has exposed a worrying tendency by the police to appear flat-footed and phlegmatic, when presented with the evidence of criminal culprits by enterprising victims. Social media’s omni-present power as a circulator and collector of crime-related information is proving to be a revolutionary crime-fighting tool.  Coupled with the dissemination of CCTV footage, the likes of Facebook is proving to be a razor sharp crime-fighting tool. But, the trusty community sleuth work still requires an equally nimble response from the police, to seal the deal and bring the pond scum to justice. It’s increasingly disappointing that a spate of community crime-busting initiatives in the past week or so, have been hamstrung by police inaction, or the sort of blundering you’d expect from Inspector Clouseau in a Pink Panther plot. The latest episode of police frustration has been voiced by Tom Filmer, the 21 year old cyclist who had his $12,500 S-Works bike stolen by a serial bike thief, who Tom tracked down, but still hasn’t been apprehended by law enforcement. Last week, Café Valentino’s Michael Turner who expressed his frustration at the failure of police to promptly view the CCTV footage of an offender thieving from his restaurant.  Turner turned to Facebook to unleash his own investigation, circulating the footage which swiftly sprung the thief’s identity. Several months ago, the Police Association President, Greg O’Connor, expressed to me his  concern that the responsive policing capability is seriously strained in some districts, with too many staff deployed to prevention policing, fuelling the reputational damage to the blue line, when their gaping inability to respond on demand. is exposed.   The Prevention First policing model has certainly helped curb the incidence of crime. But that is cold comfort to genuine victims of offending. Last year in Christchurch, a staggering 17,000 thefts and burglaries were recorded by the police. It’s the most likely form of crime to be inflicted on law-abiding residents, with no connections to the criminal fraternity or recidivist offenders. They every right to expect the police to be their first responders, swiftly and effectively, at a time of need. The resolution rate for Christchurch burglaries in 2014 was a paltry 12%. The failure to respond, particularly when the evidence and the identity of the offender is hand-delivered on a platter, is not only constitutes crappy customer service but undermines public confidence in policing.

Mike’s weekly current affairs column, as first published in The Press.

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