It must be said that in today's world there is an awful lot of shite that anyone who has anything remotely to do with the Government has to put up with. This is mainly borne out of the view that in order to justify ones existence (and expenses) they must be accountable, and the easiest way to account for something is for someone to make a graph so that they can point to it and say "look how good we are, that red line has clearly gone down while the green line has gone up, so we must be doing things right!"
I'm not a big fan of statistics for statistics sake. In the last 10 years the Government have all but brought the Police to their knees with paperwork and targets, the same can be said for GP's, Hospitals and teachers. The problem is that the people who set the targets don't really understand the problem and they massively over simplify, which subsequently creates problems that everyone but the target setters see coming a mile off. Not that this matters to the Government.
The National Crime Recording Standards (NCRS) were originally conceived after calls from certain sections of the public who were aggrieved that the Police were not taking their allegations of crime seriously and that we were failing them. In some cases they were perfectly justified in saying so, in others they certainly were not. There were also calls for the Police to be held considerably more accountable to the public purse, and the best way to do that of course is to be able to have a list of everything you’ve dealt with.
To appease certain sections (ethnic minorities with perfectly legitimate calls at one end and time wasting losers with nothing else to do but report each other for 'harassment innit' who, unsurprisingly weren't being taken seriously at the other end of the scale) the Government suggested that if a person thinks a crime has happened - whether it actually had or not - then the Police had to treat it as a crime and investigate the incident to prove one way or another. If the evidence suggests that a crime has taken place then the offender would be put forward for prosecution if the evidence passed the threshold.
NCRS also stipulates that the Police should record a crime even if the victim doesn’t want to know or is refusing to assist Police with investigation (conceived to tackle ‘honour’ and domestic crime) and also to make a report in anticipation of a crime allegation even if the victim doesn’t actually know they’ve been a victim yet such as burglary or criminal damage where the victim is not aware.
Now this is where the problems start seeping through the cracks, because NCRS applies across the board to everything and not just certain stipulations for certain types of crime. The people who rightly said that the Police were not treating them seriously thought that now the Police HAD to take them seriously, then all their grievances and crime allegations would be dealt with quickly and effectively making their lives better.
This was not to be the case, as even though the Police did treat them seriously because we had to, we also had to treat every other person in the country seriously, no matter how moronic. Now that everyone had to be treated the same there became so many more crime allegations that the Police had to deal with and investigate, and Police numbers never increased sufficiently to effectively deal with the increased workload.
The only thing close to workable under the new regime was to remove officers from frontline positions and to put them into crime management units, force recording bureaus and various other admin roles to try and keep up. Naturally this meant the number of officers physically able to pop out to take the report went down and the workload for those few remaining officers increased exponentially.
Almost every crime (bar the most serious such as murder or the political hot potatoes) became a ticky box investigation that if it was not laid out in front of the investigator then it would be boshed as soon as possible to allow them to move onto the next one in an ever increasing pile. The net result of this, is the sections of the public who were being previously unfairly failed by the Police now joined everyone else. The problem is they are still being failed, but at least now that everyone is getting bad service, it's fair isn't it?
When I used to patrol around if we saw a bus shelter or a phone box with a broken window then all we would have do is get the control room to call the relevant company to give them a heads up so they could fix it the next day. Signs of damage and disorder reduced, public feel less like they live in a complete shit hole.
Now because of NCRS, even if the victim doesn’t actually know that they have been a victim, the Police still have to report the incident as a crime and fill out the relevant crime report in anticipation of the victim making a complaint of criminal damage. Filling out a crime report could take anything up to an hour depending on the details of the incident but usually about 30 minutes. Now compare this to the previous procedure of the ten second radio message from the Police officer, and two minutes to create and type up the incident message from the operator and it is hardly surprising to find that no one now calls in to report the phone boxes or bus shelters as being damaged.
If you were to drive around and see two phone boxes and one shelter smashed, that’s at least an hour and a half to write it up which is an hour and a half away from the street and actually being visible to the public, as well as criminals that we seek to deter. This isn't Police officers being lazy, we know all too well how much the public want to see us out and about and none of us like being stuck behind a desk.
The companies never reported the criminal damage incidents to the Police before hand due to the cost in additional administration to them versus the already accepted and budgeted costs of routine repair. Now that they don’t know the next morning that one of their units have been damaged, it could feasibly add another couple of days before the routine repair requirement is identified, which also means more time for people to walk past and think that the area is going down hill.
The problem is further complicated when the government looked at the sheet of lists of crimes and said to ACPO "this is clearly not acceptable, there are too many robberies and burglaries (for example) so you have to cut the numbers"
With less police officers on the street to actually deter and detect crime (as well as pathetic sentencing of those who were caught, charged and convicted) the only way that the Police could actually reduce the numbers was through a process of reclassification performed by crime management units and CID departments responsible for 'overseeing' the crime reports. Robberies became theft and assault, burglaries became walk-in-thefts, attempted burglaries became criminal damage, assaults were down graded, violent disorder and affray became pathetic Section 5's. Sometimes the job would be handedover and it would be NFA'd (no further action) because it's deemed not in the public interest. The list goes on, and the only people to benefit from the police having to report anything and everything are the criminals because there are less Police officers available to make their lives as uncomfortable as possible.