The MET police in London announced this week that it was ‘not practical’ to investigate certain low level crimes in London due to a strain on budget and future savings that are required to be made.
According to New Scotland Yard, there would be a shift towards ‘empowering our officers’ to assess for themselves whether it was proportionate to investigate offences such as shoplifting, criminal damage and car crime. If the complainant in a case was not willing to attend court or the value of the loss/damage was relatively low there could be a decision not to even investigate.
The MET current working procedures
Currently when a complaint is made the police will investigate and make an arrest, or interview voluntarily, if they have reasonable grounds to suspect a particular person’s involvement. If a decision cannot be made about that particular case, the suspect is either bailed to return to the police station or ‘released under investigation’ (RUI). In bail cases the police will work towards making a decision by a particular date; in RUI cases the matter is left open indefinitely whilst investigative work continues.
Increasingly, often due to workload, we have found that RUI cases do not appear to be actively investigated by officers as they do not seem to be high priority. This leaves both suspects and complainants not knowing what will happen to their case. For a complainant, this could leave them feeling justice is not done; for suspects, there will be no way of knowing whether they will face charge and potential criminal proceedings.
Has the MET really thought about the negative consequences of this cut?
There are numerous concerns we have with the proposals laid out by the MET. One of which is the stage at which the decision not to investigate will be made. If made at the point of complaint the effect is likely to be that there are no arrests; this could potentially lead to an emboldening of suspects. If a person inclined towards theft knows that there is a no investigation policy for theft below £50 they are likely to more carefully plan their theft so that it falls below that particular threshold. What is likely to happen is that there is a shift towards lower value theft but in far greater volumes.
If there is no investigation, and of course no arrest, charge and sentence to follow, victims will be left out of pocket and with a feeling that justice has not been done. This could lead to shops and retailers having to tighten their own security, the cost of which is almost inevitably going to pass to the innocent consumer.
Perhaps more worrying is the possibility that retailers and individuals alike may dispense their own justice. If a low-priority theft is not investigated, will it follow that a low-level assault committed on a suspected shoplifter also not be investigated? With budget cuts likely to continue will the new policy be extended; ie the threshold extended to £100?
Policing and law enforcement must not be cut: the criminal justice system is in danger!
We have all had to deal with the years of austerity and cut-backs, but policing and law enforcement is one of the key areas that simply cannot be cut. The criminal justice system is already at breaking point with decrepit prison conditions, prosecution failings, legal aid cuts and court closures. Of course there has to be prioritisation of certain criminal offences, but it should not be at the cost of properly policing and enforcing lower level offences.
If you require representation at the police station or court contact our team on 020 7388 1658 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Duncan Roberts, SolicitorRead More
Can I be extradited for a minor offence?
Every so often, there are newspaper reports of people facing extradition for what appear to be minor offences; for example, recently there were reports of a man wanted in Greece for offences of joyriding and criminal damage. We have recently dealt with a case where a man was wanted in Poland for ‘abusing a police officer’ and refusing to put an advert in his local paper apologising to the officer.
In 2014, the Extradition Act had a new section added to it to deal with this sort of situation. Where a person is accused of an offence, the Judge has to decide whether his/her extradition would be disproportionate. The section says what the Judge can take into account:
1. The seriousness of the offence.
There is a list of offences that could be seen as not being serious enough; minor theft such as shoplifting, driving offences where nobody was hurt or minor criminal damage. However, it is up to the Judge hearing the case to make that decision.
2. The likely penalty if the person is found guilty.
As far as the likely penalty is concerned, the Judge has to consider whether a person is likely to get a prison sentence if they are found guilty. That decision has to be based on the sentences likely to be passed in the requesting country, not the sentence that would probably be passed in this country.
3. The possibility of the foreign authority taking ‘less coercive measures’.
Less coercive measures can include the person agreeing to return voluntarily, appearance via videolink, or answering a summons.
Before an EAW (European Arrest Warrant) is issued, the National Crime Agency has to consider whether extradition would be proportionate. As a result, a number of warrants that would probably be seen by a judge as being disproportionate never actually get to court in the first place.
Please contact us on 0207 388 1658, or email email@example.com if you wish to discuss your extradition matter with us further, or to find out whether you would be eligible for legal aid for extradition matters. We have a dedicated team of lawyers specialising in extradition who are here to help you.
John Howey, Senior Solicitor