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Police 'on the verge' of decriminalising major crimes

Offences like criminal damage or vehicle crime are so badly investigated they are "on the verge of being decriminalised" in some parts of the UK, a police watchdog has warned.

HMIC did not single out staff in their report but blamed a mindset that dogged a whole force. Credit: PA

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) released a scathing report into the "mindset" of some forces, which the watchdog said lead to victims being asked to investigate the crimes they had reported.

Victims of high-volume offences like vehicle crime and "burglaries of properties other than dwellings" were asked questions by call-handlers to assess the likelihood of the crime being solved, inspectors found.

Some forces had asked victims to check if there was CCTV or fingerprint evidence available, and interview their own neighbours.

Inspector of Constabulary Roger Baker, who led the inspection, said: "Effectively what's happened is a number of crimes are on the verge of being decriminalised. So it's not the fault of the individual staff, it's a mindset thing that's crept in to policing to say 'we've almost given up'."

Police officers 'continue to fail' new fitness tests

Credit: PA Images

Hundreds of police officers are still failing new fitness tests which are due to become compulsory in weeks, official figures show.

Some 352 officers fell short with 2% failing overall in more than 13,000 tests across 32 forces, latest results from the professional standards body the College of Policing said.

After taking part in the 15-metre "bleep" shuttle run test, some 138 of the 10,265 male officers who took part, an average of 1%, and 214 of 3,693 female officers, an average of 6%, were unsuccessful.

The new fitness testing, which will become compulsory on September 1, was brought in after recommendations made by Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor.

If an officer fails the fitness test at the first attempt, it is advised that at least two retakes are permitted before forces use "unsatisfactory performance" against the participating officer.

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Shotgun disguised as walking cane handed into police

A shotgun disguised as a walking cane has been handed into Greater Manchester Police as part of a firearms amnesty.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Wiggett holding the cane gun. Credit: Greater Manchester Police

The cane is estimated to have been made in the late 1800s and has a shotgun concealed in the casing. The weapon was often carried during the 19th and early 20th century by men hunting wild game on their grounds.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Wiggett, pictured with the cane gun, said: “This cane gun is a very peculiar discovery.

"As a prohibited weapon, not even a license will cover the possession of this item, so the owner did the right thing in handing it over to us, where it will be processed and safely destroyed.”

The shotgun was handed into police as part of the ‘Give Up The Gun’ amnesty which is due to finish at 11.59pm on Saturday 26 July. So far, 164 weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition have been handed over to police.

Cuts to police force over next four years 'not an option'

Police forces could be placed in jeopardy in three to five years' times due to slashed budgets, watchdog Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has found.

Continuing to apply the cost reductions in the same way in the next four years as they've been applied in these four years is not an option, and we're very clear that the viability of some forces could be placed in jeopardy in three to five years' time.

By that we mean they would have to cut too hard and too deep into neighbourhood policing and they may not be able to guarantee or maintain the service that we're currently seeing to the public.

– Zoe Billingham, HMIC

Watchdog warns police forces at risk over cuts

A police watchdog has raised "growing concerns" that local bobbies are being taken off the beat, as it warned some forces may struggle to cope with major crimes such as rioting or multiple murders in the next few years.

A police watchdog has raised Credit: PA

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found that neighbourhood teams are being stretched with extra work that keeps them in the office, and revealed a third of people had seen fewer police officers on patrol in the past year.

The watchdog also warned that the future of some smaller forces could be at risk in the next three to five years if recent methods used to slash budgets do not change.

Those with low police officer numbers and a low cost of policing per head were highlighted as being the most vulnerable, with Lincolnshire and Suffolk among forces deemed to be at risk.

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Elderly woman dies after being bitten by police dog

A 73-year-old woman has died in hospital after being bitten by a police dog that was searching for a suspect in her garden.

Irene Collins was attacked by the German shepherd last week at her home in Middlesbrough.

A police van outside Irene Collins' home in Middlesbrough. Credit: ITV News

The Assistant Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, Sean White, said: "Members of Cleveland Police share the grief that is felt and we all wish to express our sincerest condolences to the family."

Mr White said the Independent Police Complaints Commission had been informed of the incident and would be deciding how to investigate what happened.

He said the force were "commited to learning any lessons" from the incident, but stressed that using dogs was "operationally important" to fighting crime and protecting the public.

The dog involved has been withdrawn from duty, while its handler is also receiving support, he added.

MP: Police guidelines 'will give public confidence'

A code of ethics for police forces across the country will give the public "even greater confidence" in officers, a member of an influential committee has said.

Conservative James Clappison, who sits on the Home Affairs select committee, told the Daily Telegraph:

The over-whelming majority of the police are polite to the public but I think it is useful to set out.

I think this will be good for the police themselves and for the public and give them even greater confidence in them. The overwhelmingly majority of police are decent and conscientious.

If officers breach the code of ethics a range of sanctions are available. Officers may simply be given a verbal warning or moved to another team, but more significant failures will require formal investigation and may result in an individual losing their job.

– James Clappison

Code of ethics drawn up for police

Police officers who are rude in public or work while unfit face being punished under a new code of ethics drawn up to improve the force's reputation.

The guidelines are believed to have the full backing of the Home Secretary. Credit: PA

The guidelines, written by The College of Policing, would punish officers who appeared for work under the influence of alcohol, and those who had sex or took drugs while on duty.

Officers will be urged to blow the whistle on colleagues of all ranks and failure to comply to regulations could lead to disciplinary action and even dismissal.

The College of Policing hope the guidelines will help to restore the public's faith in the police, after a series of corruption, race and behaviour while undercover scandals rocked constabularies across the UK.

The Home Secretary is understood to back the guidelines and they will go before parliament, although no date has yet been finalised.

New rules for police to improve force reputation

The new rules follow police embarrassment over the Hillsborough cover-up and Plebgate scandal. Credit: PA

Police officers face being punished for being rude to the public under new rules planned to improve the reputation of service.

Warnings about clocking on when unfit or impaired through drinking alcohol, using drugs or having sex while on duty will also be contained in the new code of ethics.

Officers will be urged to blow the whistle on colleagues of all ranks if they breach professional standards.

Failure to abide by the rules could result in disciplinary action or even the sack.

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