The headline, ‘Police fail to identify a suspect in more than half of crimes reported by the public’ is the latest stick being used to beat the police service.
This really is an unfair way of representing new statistical data which has recently become available. In the vast majority of cases it’s not a failing by the police when a suspect can’t be identified, it’s simply due to the circumstances of the incident, that victims or witnesses don’t know who committed the crime and there aren’t any available lines of enquiry.
I have said it before and I will say it again, police officers do not have psychic ability and are not issued with crystal balls. However, there should be genuine concerns that some foreign offenders, who commit serious offences, will not be identified and caught because the government has opted out of EU agreements on the sharing of DNA samples and other intelligence.
So for offences of burglary or rape in this country where the police have recovered DNA at the scene of the crime but there is no match on the UK database; the lack of protocols means the recovered DNA sample is not automatically checked with 15 other EU countries that have DNA databases.
There will be prolific rapists and other violent offenders who are travelling throughout Europe, leaving clues at the scenes of crimes and important links cannot be made by the different law enforcement agencies.
It is also clear there are persons visiting or staying in this country who are known in their home country as dangerous people, with serious convictions. The UK authorities don’t have ready access to that intelligence and are unaware of the threat posed by some people.
Last year nearly one third of the suspects arrested in London were foreign nationals and the number of foreigners in British jails continues to increase. It will be early 2016 before the government decides whether EU-data sharing measures should be implemented to deal with these loopholes. In the meantime, it’s likely more foreign criminals will view this country as a relatively easy target with rich pickings.
Therefore, a key statistic which should be monitored is the increase in the number of DNA samples being recovered from scenes of crimes where there is no match on the UK database. That may provide the tell-tale signs of an increase in the activity of foreign offenders.