Crime figures 'honesty' call

Richard ParrTwo senior Norfolk police officers have mounted a robust defence to a claim made by a Dereham councillor that not all crimes reported by the public are recorded.Richard Parr

Two senior Norfolk police officers have mounted a robust defence to a claim made by a Dereham councillor that not all crimes reported by the public are recorded.

Tim Burt told fellow town councillors on Tuesday that he had become aware that not all crimes being reported were recorded, so the true picture of crime levels in the area was being hidden.

But Supt Katie Elliott, who is in charge of policing throughout Breckland, and Insp Paul Wheatley, the officer responsible for policing in the Dereham area, denied the accusation, pointing out that a reported incident was sometimes not classified as being a crime: rather, it could be anti-social behaviour.

Mr Burt also told the council he was concerned that people who had reported crimes were not receiving sufficient feedback.

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He said: 'It is vital that the police do engage with the community they serve. We do expect law enforcement to be open and honest. The crime reporting system needs to reflect what is happening.'

Both Supt Elliott and Insp Wheatley went to considerable lengths to reassure councillors at the meeting that all reported crime was dealt with seriously and that all crime victims were now visited in their homes. Afterwards, the inspector said: 'I want to send the message out to the public of Dereham that, if they believe a crime has occurred, to call us because we need to know where the problems are so officers can work on it and stop it happening'.

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He added: 'We are ethical in our crime reporting and would encourage the public to let us know what is happening.'

Supt Elliott stressed that all crimes reported were scrutinised to ensure they were accurately recorded.

'We want to be able to understand what the issues are so that we can resolve our community's problems' she told the Times. 'The list that Mr Burt referred to included reference to leaving a pink scooter on a recreation ground, but that is not a crime: it is anti-social behaviour.

'For me, it is all about our safer neighbourhood teams working with our partners in the community to understand what the issues are that matter to them, and, whether that gets reported as a crime, anti-social behaviour or any other issue, then we want to address it.'

Town and district coun-cillor Michael Fanthorpe said he was concerned about what he saw as a down-grading of the Dereham police function in a town with a population of 18,000 and upgrading of Faken-ham, which had a much smaller population. 'I can't see the logic in that, and think it is wrong,' he said.

What are your own experiences with the police when you have been affected by crime? Write to the editor, Dereham and Fakenham Times, Bond House, High Street, Dereham, NR19 1DZ or email ian.clarke

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