CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Police told not to investigate thefts worth less than £50

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan defends policy and says police must be 'honest and candid' with victims

29 January, 2018

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan visiting Camden

A NEW policy advising police officers not to investigate lower level crime has led to claims the Mayor of London is surrendering to criminals.

But Sadiq Khan defended the Met’s “crime assessment process”, in which officers are told to ignore thefts valued under £50 and not to spend more than 20 minutes reviewing CCTV.

Mr Khan said the policy allows police to have “an early and realistic conversation with the victims”, adding: “It’s not by any stretch of the imagination police throwing up the white flag. It’s a continuation of the triaging that’s always taken place by the police service.”

Senior officers say the policy formalises a long-standing practice of concentrating resources on more serious offences, allowing greater honesty and transparency.

But critics fear it will lead to an increase in crime. Internal Met documents, released under Freedom of Information laws, show that officers have been issued with a flow chart, instructing them when not to pursue an investigation.

Theft or criminal damage under £50 will not be investigated and other crimes, unless a suspect has been identified, might be dropped if there is not “clear image of the suspect and offence” on CCTV. Officers are provided with an evolving list of “mandatory crimes” that will always be investigated, including murder, rape and “any offence which leads to substantial financial gain or loss to any person”.

Hate crime, domestic violence and all sexual assaults are also exempt from the assessment process. Aggravated burglary, where the suspects was carrying a weapon or knew someone would be in the building, must be investigated. So too must distraction burglaries, where the offender cons their way into a property.

However, other burglaries will be subjected to the assessment process and may not be.

Labour’s Andrew Dismore, a member of the London Assembly, said the number of crimes potentially affected by the police was “pretty concerning”. He added: “Due to Conservative government-imposed budget cuts only serious crimes will now be investigated, and following the laid-down crime assessment principles and flow chart, it looks to me like most crimes will not be investigated at all.”

Gareth Bacon, the leader of the Conservative group at the London Assembly, said that the Mayor “consistently overstates the Met’s financial difficulties”, adding that, due to £49million raised through a precept on council tax, the Met can “comfortably meet its savings targets up to at least 2020”. He added: “The force should not reduce its investigation of low-level crimes. Figures show that petty criminals will go on to commit more serious offences if they go unchecked. Any prioritisation away from smaller offences is a conscious decision by the Mayor and the Met – not the unavoidable result of government cuts.”

Mr Khan said he supported the decision of Met commissioner Cressida Dick to introduce the policy, adding: “What you will now have is honesty and transparency from the police, whereas in the past you may have been led to believe there will be a huge amount of police resources spent to investigate a crime which will probably be not solved. The police will now try to be honest and candid with you.”

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