This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The 'hidden' crime wave

At a meeting in Buckinghamshire County Council last night, I caught the tail end of a discussion on 'Doorstep Crime' and I noted one big fact: 90% of doorstep crime is not reported. I found this shocking and really rather worrying. And I got to thinking: why? And what can be done about increasing the reporting rate so that the criminals involved can be tracked down?

First: what is doorstep crime? Here is a leaflet prepared by Thames Valley Police. At the very least, doorstep crime includes distraction burglars and rogue traders. But what else? It seems to me that doorstep crime should also include:
  • Mis-selling of financial products 
  • Junk post that persuades you to part with cash using a combination of small print and extravagant claims
  • Scam emails & mendacious telephone marketing
  • All manner of home 'improvements' that actually are nothing of the sort!
  • Etc...
And let me make it clear: I have been victims of all of the above (except distraction burglary, fortunately) and I have not reported many of them. Moreover, I do not regard myself as a vulnerable or particularly gullible person (although others might disagree!)

So why do people like me (or not like me), not report such crimes? Here are a few reasons why I think this might be the case:
  • It was such a trivial amount of money, not something to bother the police / trading standards with
  • Even if I do, they will never catch the blighters...
  • And it was my own silly fault to have been conned
  • And I would rather not let the world know about my stupidity
  • And that duster salesman did look rather sad
  • Perhaps I could win the next prize draw: you just never know
  • But that financial adviser said he was independent, and he is such a nice man and has a lovely family...
  • Maybe that external wall covering will look better as it ages..
And so on.... and on.

At risk of being accused of making a daft and potentially inflammatory comparison: is this a bit like domestic violence or child abuse?

Stay with me: I am not saying the consequences in terms of harm bear any comparison in almost all cases (although an older person being conned out of a lifetime's savings is an appalling criminal act with devastating for the person concerned) but the psychology of not reporting the crime may have some correlations. And how we should, as a society react, could also be similar: in other words we need to talk about #everydaycrime more... and without shame. We need to get it out from behind closed doors (as it were). Do we not?

So what #everydaycrime have you been subject to, that you have never bothered to report before?

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