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Loughborough Town Hall

Assistant chief constable for Leicestershire police force, Phil Kay stated in an interview with the Loughborough Echo that “I would far rather my officers were spending their time preventing crime, protecting the public and focusing on other stuff than things that are preventable.”

He made his statement in reference to burglaries that occur when windows and doors are left open, essentially blaming victims of crime for their own stupidity if they make a mistake and fail to properly secure their property.

Kay was speaking specifically about students who had recently moved to the area who often left windows and doors open despite crime prevention officers leafleting both campus and parts of the city with particularly high student accommodation.

He justified his point of view but adding that the NHS wouldn’t operate on someone who was obese, a smoker or heavy drinker.

“If the health service are making decisions on whether someone has helped contribute to prevent something or not, should the police? It is right that we try and stop it but it is right that people take responsibility.”

“If they knew we were not investigating it, they may take notice.” Meaning that residents would be more fastidious about securing their homes in the absence of active policing.

Unfortunately his assertions are nonsensical. The NHS will always intervene when someone’s health is at risk just as it is necessary for the police to investigate any crime, no matter how much the victim is at ‘fault’. And to suggest that these crimes would be overlooked and left without any investigation is absurd and tantamount to a dereliction of duty. Letting crime go unchallenged would turn Loughborough into a wild-west town where the bandits could roam the streets with impunity, victimising people at will because they knew that the police simply didn’t care about crime in the area. It also overlooks the many methods that criminals use to gain access. Well brought up young people will hold the door open to a stranger who looks like they belong, they’ll open the door to people who buzz the entryphone and claim to be visiting a neighbour, they won’t challenge strangers who ‘piggyback’ them when they are entering a building, all tried and tested means of gaining access that don’t depend on windows or doors being left open. When thieves target industrial premises, they often achieve entry using exactly the same techniques, relying on the politeness and cooperative spirit of authorised personnel who assume that people who they don’t know are probably supposed to be there and fail to challenge them appropriately.

It’s not only students he would leave beyond the help of the law. He went on to state, in an interview a couple of days later with the same paper, that according to the recently adopted Cambridge Crime Index:

“All crime is not equal and does not cause the same harm. I think what the public would like us to do, and that’s my experience, they want us to be focused on the harmful crimes. The ones that cause the most harm to them and their families not necessarily on crimes which could be preventable.

“At the moment we spend a lot of time investigating theft from shops and a lot of time collecting CCTV from the theft of shops and very often we find that theft is preventable.

“That does not mean we are not interested, we are still investigating them, it is looking at our demand.”

Naturally, local businesses are as concerned as student representative bodies over Phil Kay’s comments and are worried that they will be receiving a second rate service. David Pagett-Wright, Chairperson of the Loughborough Business Improvement District organisation said:

“We recognise that the police have got limited resources. Shoplifting might feature low down in that list of priorities but it is extremely important for stores concerned, especially the small independents.

“We need to work with the police to make sure there are still ways we can help prevent shoplifting and to also take action against those who commit it.

“We don’t want to be at a stage where they just get away with it.”

Thieves are opportunists and have little or no regard for the law or the consequences of their activities, either to themselves or their victims. There’s no reason to suppose that shoplifters shoplift exclusively or that housebreakers and warehouse burglars only keep to that particular form of crime. They’re only concern is getting what they can as quickly and easily as possible, if they see a chink in your armour, no matter where it is, they will abuse it.

Law abiding citizens have every right to expect that, when they become the victims of crime, they will receive the full backing of the law and not be told “well, it’s sort of your own fault and you were asking for it really.” This kind of victim blaming mentality is unacceptable and potentially leads to some very dark  places if it’s used when looking at crimes against the person.