- September 11, 2017
The county’s most senior police officer, Giles York, has angered Sussex residents by saying that there is no point in overstretched officers visiting many victims of crime.
The Chief Constable of Sussex Police defended response times for the 101 number, insisting that a seven-minute wait for calls to be answered ‘isn’t long’. He added that it would be an “awful lot more convenient” for police to communicate with the public online or by phone.
Mr York said he had to consider whether it was the best use of police time to visit victims of minor crimes in their homes – even if the victims want them to. He said officers would explain to victims that police time would be better spent searching for the offender.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Giles York who is also the National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman for digitisation, said officers should deal with victims of crime by email. Adding that victims could assist police by composing their own witness statements and emailing crime scene images.
A number of forces now allow the public to report crimes and incidents online, including via social media. Control room staff can also communicate with the public via Web-Chat messages. In the future victims will be able to log on to a secure site in order to track the progress of their investigations.
The Chief Constable said it is ‘really important that when you ring in an emergency you are able to get through to police’. ‘When you look at waiting times for 999 calls it’s an incredible service we deliver.’ However, his comments come at a time when crime rates are rising and police are struggling to deal with the record numbers of 999 and 101 calls.
Mr York has been subjected to recent criticism that he has not been present to answer questions over serious failings within the force. His remarks have angered campaigners, who say they are further evidence of the police becoming increasingly distant from the public. Over the past decade almost half of police stations have closed. On average there is just one officer on duty at night per 10,000 residents across much of the UK.
Mr York said those who had suffered serious crimes – such as burglaries, would still be visited in their homes and again claimed that many people would prefer to deal with police online.
By Clare Calder