Police chief reportedly sees ‘no added value’ in visiting some crime victims

Giles York. Picture supplied by Sussex Police
Giles York. Picture supplied by Sussex Police

The Chief Constable of Sussex Police has reportedly said there is no ‘added value’ in his officers visiting many victims of crimes across the county.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday today (September 10), Giles York is reported to have said: “What’s the purpose of us going there? (A victim’s house.) If it’s just because the individual wants to see us, is that really the best use of policing time and investigation time?

“If your children are ill, you might quite like the GP to visit you in your house. But it wouldn’t even cross your mind now, to think to call a GP to visit your house.”

When the Mail on Sunday asked what officers should say to victims who want a home visit, Mr York reportedly said: “I hope they would explain that someone coming around isn’t going to add any value to your investigation, and actually that person’s time is better spent trying to find the offender than reassuring you.

“When I look at the lives my children lead, going shopping is a rarity, going out and meeting in the real world is sometimes a rarity.

“It can often be an awful lot more convenient for people to have a service delivered by email or text than having the commitment of a face-to-face meeting.”

Mr York was quoted by the Mail on Sunday as saying that police would still visit victims of serious crimes such as burglary.

However, for businesses, Mr York reportedly said: “It’s an awful lot more convenient for them to fill in their own witness forms, send documents and CCTV.”

In the interview, Mr York is also reported to have said: “Getting through to the police when you ring, especially in an emergency, is really important. When you look at the wait times for 999 calls it’s an incredible service we deliver.

“Non-emergency calls, I think, is another definition entirely. When I last went into my control room, they said ‘It’s really busy today, we’re really struggling’. But do you know what the average wait time was to have a non-emergency call answered? Seven minutes. Which I think for non-emergency calls isn’t long. I’ve had worse experiences calling some big corporations.”

This newspaper approached Sussex Police for a comment and Mr York issued a further statement.

He said: “Sussex Police continues to make difficult decisions as it faces the challenge of operating with new demands and reduced resources. We are striving to become more efficient in delivering an effective service, using new technologies and working smarter with the public and other agencies to prevent crime.

“We will always be there when people need us most, 24/7, 365 days a year, prioritising victims where there is the greatest risk of threat or harm.

“As with other police forces, we face greater demand than ever before with both 999 and 101 calls increasing. Our average response over the year is three minutes and 13 seconds, although during August we were particularly busy.

“But the public often don’t need to speak to us directly and they can report crimes online via our website or via email which is far more convenient for them and can be managed more efficiently by us. The police deal with a lot of enquiries which are not policing matters and should be reported to other agencies for a more effective response.

“We have also invested in an Investigations and Resolution Centre that provides timely support and advice for victims without the need for a physical visit. In its first year it reduced the need for officers to attend in 42,000 cases. This has saved victims’ time, travelling time, time lost through broken appointments and has enabled us to redeploy our officers to support and protect people with the greatest need and threat of harm.”