Suella Braverman: ‘All victims of theft deserve more from the police and justice system than simply a crime number... ’
Suella Braverman has said that police must pursue “all reasonable lines of inquiry” amid concerns that officers are ignoring evidence from the public such as tracking data from stolen phones, laptops and cars.
The Home Secretary is asking forces to emulate the approach taken by Greater Manchester Police, which was removed from special measures in record time last year after Steve Watson, its chief constable, ordered officers to investigate all crimes and follow up all reasonable leads. The shift led to a substantial increase in the number of arrests.
Ms Braverman and Chris Philp, the policing minister, are now finalising an agreement with police chiefs that will commit forces to rolling out a similar approach nationally.
Recent polling has found that more than two-thirds of people believe the Government is handling crime badly, spelling danger for the Conservatives as the party prepares to defend its 13-year record in the run-up to next year’s general election.
‘Victims deserve more’
In her first public comments on the plan for all officers to adopt Greater Manchester Police’s approach, Ms Braverman warned that some victims’ experiences of the justice system were restricted to being given a crime reference number by officers when they reported an offence.
“All victims of theft deserve more from the police and justice system than simply a crime number, and they should expect all reasonable lines of enquiry should be followed up,” the Home Secretary said.
A police source said the College of Policing, the professional body for officers, and the National Police Chiefs’ Council, were “supportive of doing this on a national basis”, adding: “It will be a jointly agreed approach.”
The guidelines are expected to be published within the next fortnight. Officers will be expected to follow up on “all reasonable lines of inquiry... no matter how minor they are perceived to be”.
Ministers are understood to be particularly concerned about the public losing faith in the police when officers fail to act on tracking data showing the location of stolen phones, laptops and cars – including cases in which multiple stolen devices are appearing at the same address.
‘Did not have manpower’
In one high-profile case, Giles Coren, the television presenter, claimed that the Metropolitan Police said officers did not have the “manpower to investigate” the theft of his Jaguar, despite Coren producing live tracking data showing its whereabouts.
The Home Secretary has been impressed by the approach taken by Greater Manchester Police, which has increased the number of charges for vehicle theft by 53 per cent.
Ms Braverman told Van Watch, which campaigns against tool thefts from tradespeople’s vehicles, that “improvements” were needed to the policing of acquisitive crime such as theft and robbery.