Truncheon, smartphone... and tarot cards?

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When I joined the police, at the beginning of every shift, the sergeant would shout ‘Produce Your Appointments’ and all the bobbies present would have to show that they were in possession of their truncheon, handcuffs and pocket notebook.

These days the list of equipment carried by an officer is far more impressive and can include a body camera, CS spray, fixed penalty tickets, and now in Lancashire they have been kitted out with state-of-the-art smart phones.

There are those who decry the expense of issuing police officers with fancy IT equipment but, as 
ever, it is simply a case of Lancashire police leading the way in modernising policing. These newly-issued devices will assist in keeping officers out on the streets for longer periods during a shift and lessen the need for regular trips back to the station. The ability of officers to access live intelligence, take statements and submit crime reports will improve greatly.

In the same week that these technological advances were announced, some sections of the media also picked up on a College of Policing report that appeared to recommend that psychics should be contacted during investigations into major crime. Unsurprisingly, some journalists were unimpressed with the thought that the police would now be consulting with tarot card readers and other crystal ball gazing clairvoyants whenever there was a difficulty in detecting a murder or finding a missing person.

That is not what the College of Policing was recommending.

During long-running undetected serious criminal investigations, it is fairly common for people with alleged ‘special abilities’ to come forward and wish to provide assistance.

These offers of help are usually pushed right to the bottom of the pile and can end up being completely dismissed without further assessment.

The danger with simply ignoring, what on the face of it may appear to be a crank call, is that the person may be saying they have had a ‘vision’ when in fact they actually do have first, second or third hand knowledge of key information.

In reality, a sceptical view should be taken of any offer of psychic help unless that person has a proven track record of success and there is no one who has managed to provide that yet. So until then, the police must continue to make best use of advanced technology rather than relying on people who read tea leaves!