Leicestershire’s Assistant Chief Constable, Phil Kay, has sparked controversy by asking whether officers should probe break-ins where a victim had left a window or door open.
He compared victims of “preventable” crimes to NHS patients who are refused treatment because they are too fat.
Leicestershire Police’s assistant chief constable told the Loughborough Echo that homeowners might “take notice” if they thought police would not investigate.
The Daily Mail re-published the comments with the headline: “Now police blame victims for being burgled”.
ACC Kay was reported in the media as saying:
“The NHS says ‘we are not going to operate on you because your body mass is too high – they have not helped themselves prevent an illness’.
“Yet if people leave doors or windows open there is an expectation the police will investigate.
“I’d rather my officers spent time preventing crime and protecting the public, rather than on things that are preventable.
“If the health service is making decisions on whether someone has helped to prevent something or not, should the police?
“I am not suggesting we have any plans to change what we do, but I pose that as a question.”
The Force was quick to comment on the remarks which had been widely publicised and possibly misunderstood.
A response published on the Force’s website reads:
We are aware of the story circulating that suggests Leicestershire Police will no longer be investigating preventable burglaries. This, of course, is not the case.
We do, and will continue to, prioritise the investigation of all reports of domestic burglaries received from members of the public in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. There are no plans to change this whatsoever, a point made to the reporter from the Loughborough Echo in the original interview.
We recognise the impact that burglaries have on victims and will always relentlessly pursue those responsible for this type of crime, in order to bring them to justice. As a force we have a satisfaction rate of 87% in relation to how we investigate burglaries and how we deal with victims of crime.
In the original interview, Mr Kay was clear that he was posing a hypothetical question, to help generate a debate about how we should highlight the importance of crime prevention and how we ‘nudge’ people to take home security far more seriously and therefore help prevent them becoming a victim of crime.
If, as a consequence of this debate, people think and act differently regarding the security of their homes and from now on always keep their windows and doors locked, we will hopefully have prevented someone from becoming a victim of burglary.
Police and Crime Commissioner Willy Bach issued a statement in which he said he wanted to make the position crystal clear.
“As long as I am Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland every burglary will of course continue to be investigated, as it always has been.
“It is irrelevant whether or not windows are left open or shut. Burglary is burglary. Burglary will naturally be included in my Police and Crime Plan – alongside a wholehearted commitment to investigate crime.
“Of course crime prevention is critical. It seems to me that this is what Phil Kay was getting at. Everybody has a responsibility to be vigilant.
“Prevention is even more important today because of the enormous cuts that have been imposed on the Police in Leicestershire and elsewhere. In Leicestershire we have lost 20% of our Police force in five years.
“I was a Criminal Barrister for many years and burglary of all kinds was treated as a really serious offence – it involves the invasion of a victim’s property. This is my view and it is the view of Leicestershire Police for whom the commitment to tackling crime remains undiminished.”
Photo: ACC Phil Kay courtesy www.leics.police.uk]