UK police watchdog: burglary and car crime "on verge of being decriminalised"

The Inspectorate of Constabulary says that police now tell victims of property crimes to "solve the crimes themselves," directing them over the phone to review CCTV footage and canvas their neighbourhoods for witnesses.

The police say that in austerity Britain, they can't give priority to property crimes and don't have the personnel to attend the scenes of such crimes in person. However, the UK's domestic security apparatus does have millions to squander on a full-time Julian Assange stakeout, mass surveillance, a titanic DNA database, endless and racist stop-and-frisk harassment, undercover infiltration of peaceful environmental groups, and the imprisonment of countless people convicted of petty drug crimes.

The report concludes that police desk-based investigations of crime are failing to serve the public and mean "little or nothing more than recording a crime without taking further action. The HMIC investigation found that it is still policy to send an officer to attend all reports of crime in only six of the 43 police forces in England and Wales. In the other 37 forces a call-handler uses set criteria to assess whether somebody should be sent.

The watchdog says it is unacceptable that its investigation found nearly half the police forces were unable to provide any details of the reported crimes their officers had attended and that a third were failing to identify repeat and vulnerable victims when they rang to report an incident.

Police telling victims to solve crimes by themselves [Alan Travis/The Guardian]