Why have police who won’t investigate crimes?

When you seek accountability you find that the whole system is rotten

I lot of people tell me they get inspiration from reading my efforts to hold officials here in the UK to account. There is also a general satisfaction in writing crisp letters that have a little artistry to them, too. Based on my attempt today to report my local council for blackmail, and the police trying to repulse me from the very outset, I thought you might appreciate my complaint email to the Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary. When the problem is systemic and not individual, go straight to the top.

If they were honourable people, this would provoke a serious investigation into my allegations. I have removed some details for privacy.

Dear Chief Constable Farrell,

I am a 51 year old resident of TOWN, and today I walked into a police station for the first time in my life to report a crime. I have never been arrested for any crime, let alone convicted, and my interaction with the police has hitherto been minimal. I want to make you aware of the unsatisfactory nature of my initial encounter, since it represents a basic failure in the mission and training of the police โ€” and which needs management correction.

I wished to report serious white-collar crime at Durham County Council. I have evidence that they are knowingly running an unlawful debt collection process, claiming there are valid court Liability Orders where there are none, and then (anonymously!) threatening members of the public (like me) while deliberately denying due process. These are serious crimes: blackmail, fraud, misconduct in public office, and perjury โ€” while acting ultra vires.

I met the officer manning reception just before 4pm, and I was shocked by his dismissive, disrespectful, and obnoxious behaviour. He claimed he had been an officer for 30 years and the police would never take on a complaint like this, and that I should simply go away. I insisted that it was the duty of the police to investigate all reports of crime, especially serious and high-level crime. He relented and let me consult with a colleague, PC ABC.

PC ABC treated me with the respect that any member of the public is due, and I have no issue with her professionalism. After some discussion she saw merit in what I was saying, since claiming there is a court order when there is not one is fraud, and took it to her sergeant, PC XYZ. He counselled it was a civil matter, being in respect of disputed Council Tax debt. I disagree, but that is not what I am taking up with you here; there is a separate escalation process. What is relevant is that my complaint was not one that could be casually dismissed as unfounded without any examination.

The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 specifies the need for a code of conduct, and as such Ministry of Justice lists the first right of a victim of crime is to understand and to be understood. It is not the job of the person manning the reception to judge whether a crime has taken place โ€” without even the most cursory understanding of the complaint, let alone the looking at the evidence. Esteem for the alleged perpetrator is not a reason to rudely send the complainant away at reception.

One uncharitable interpretation of what happened today was that the officer at reception was aiding and abetting, simply due to incredulity that I could legitimately be reporting a serious and systemic criminal fraud involving the local authority. I am experiencing being unlawfully treated by the Council in a way equivalent to claiming there is warrant when none exists, so I feel I deserve to be heard, whatever the outcome. Someone attempting to report a crime should be treated as a victim of crime, and not subjected to further crime by the police!

Whether you wish to reprimand the officer at the reception desk is up to you. The real problem is that the most basic function of the police is to record and investigate crime. Even if you do not think a crime has occurred *after* investigation (and again, I assert there are several serious ones here that need proper investigation) then the member of the public deserves to be treated with respect โ€” and not contempt. That the foundational function of the police (to record and investigate crime) was so broken saddened me.

Wishing you well at this time of year, and with gratitude for the many good things that come from policing,

Martin Geddes

I will share more thoughts on this general matter and what I learned from the encounter on another occasion.