London: Victims of petty crime like car theft in Britain are being increasingly told to turn 'detectives' and investigate their own cases by some police forces.
The Inspectorate of Constabulary, the official police watchdog for England and Wales, found in a report that this "do-it-yourself" or DIY, trend was linked with some high-volume types of offences, such as car crimes, criminal damage and non-residential burglaries and warn that these offences are on the verge of being decriminalised.
"Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary finds this expectation by these forces that the victims should investigate their own crimes both surprising and a matter of material concern," says the report released here today.
"The police have been given powers and resources to investigate crime by the public, and there should be no expectation on the part of the police that an inversion of that responsibility is acceptable," it adds.
According to the findings, victims of such crimes were often asked to speak to neighbours, check for CCTV images and see if their stolen property has been put up for sale on second-hand websites.
The inspector who led the review, Roger Baker, said, "It's more a mindset, that we no longer deal with these things. And effectively what's happened is a number of crimes are on the verge of being decriminalised.
"So it's not the fault of the individual staff; it's a mindset thing that's crept in to policing to say 'We've almost given up'," he said.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said that austerity measures and staff shortages meant forces had to set priorities.
ACPO president Hugh Orde said, "The reality of austerity in policing means that forces must ensure that their officers' time is put to best use and this means prioritising calls".
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.