A former police officer from west London has condemned the Met's decision to stop investigating some lower level crimes as a result of “destructive funding cuts”.
Earlier this month, the force announced it will no longer look into many reports of crimes, including thefts, burglaries and assaults, where there is thought to be little chance of identifying a suspect.
Retired officer Chris Hobbs, whose first posting as a probationer was to Southall, said budget cuts in the face of “struggling police services” do not justify the non-investigation of low-level crimes.
“How burglary can be viewed as 'low level' and unworthy of investigation is beyond me,” he said.
“It is a devastating crime and victims not only need support and reassurance, they need on-the-spot advice to prevent it happening again – burglars frequently return to the scene of their own crime.
“Have we now reached a stage where hooded, masked thugs can simply walk into a shop and casually take whatever they want, knowing that this will not be of interest to the police?”
He added: “If you're walking down the street and get a smack in the face from a thug for no apparent reason, are we really saying that – unless the injury is serious – don't bother police?
“Such assaults do tremendous and perhaps irreparable damage to the victim's self-confidence and well-being.”
Due to £400m of cuts to the Metropolitan Police's budget, a number of changes have been proposed - including the possible closure of some west London police stations.
When the proposals were first announced, Mark Simmons, Metropolitan Police's deputy assistant commissioner, said the force is having to “balance the books” with fewer officers and less money.
He said: “With the pressure on our resources, it is not practical for our officers to spend a considerable amount of time looking into something where, for example, the value of damage or the item stolen is under £50, or the victim is not willing to support a prosecution.
“We need our officers to be focused on serious crime and cases where there is a realistic chance that we will be able to solve it.
“We also want them to be available to respond to emergencies and go to those members of the public that need our help the most.”
'Public confidence will wane'
However, Mr Hobbs said if Metropolitan Police cease investigating low-level crimes, it will have a harmful effect on the public's relationship with the force.
“If this policy in respect to crime investigation is implemented, public confidence will wane and a significant gulf will develop between the Met and the people of London – who will rightly feel less secure.
“Of course, in a couple years' time, we'll doubtless have the Met's spin doctors gleefully proclaiming that there has been a dramatic fall in burglary, theft and other 'minor' crime.”
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