Warped PC values hamper proper crime fighting as cops hunt down WOLF WHISTLERS

Warped PC values hamper proper crime fighting as cops hunt down WOLF WHISTLERS

Homicide is at its highest for a decade, knife crime is up 12 per cent in a year (Image: Christopher Furlong/Getty)

"I'm delighted that we are leading the way towards tackling misogyny in all its forms," chief constable Sue Fish recently said.

Fortunately, there are some senior police officers with a greater sense of proportion, like Sara Thornton, who is the chairman the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC).

In a speech to the joint summit of the NPCC and the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) she lambasted the warped sense of priorities which is putting fashionable causes above the dreary, everyday business of fighting violent and acquisitive crime.

It is all very well devoting time to tackling historic cases of misogyny, she said, but serious crime is rising and police forces are failing to get on top of it.

Homicide is at its highest for a decade, knife crime is up 12 percent in a year, robbery up 22 percent and vehicle crime up seven percent.

Meanwhile, the National Crime Agency yesterday laid bare the level of organised crime in Britain where 4,600 gangs, it said, are costing the country £37billion a year and killing more Britons than terrorism, war and natural disasters put together.

And I know exactly what Thornton means. In the spring I was scammed by a Devon "hotel" which took my money, cancelled my booking and refused me a refund.

When I looked on TripAdvisor, I saw it had scammed numerous others too.

But when I reported it to Devon and Cornwall Police, I was met with an extraordinary attitude.

"No," said the officer, he couldn't investigate fraud. I would have to report it to the Action Fraud helpline, a misnomer if there ever was one.

After a couple of emails, the service failed to take any action whatsoever.

But it was the police officer's next comment which annoyed me most.

Sara Thornton, the chairman of the NPCC (Image: NPCC/PA)

He said his force had to prioritise what the public cared about most, which he said was sexual offences.

Obviously, sexual offences are extremely important – or at least those involving something more serious than accusations that a long-dead celebrity once put his hand on someone's knee.

But when did the police stop bothering with fraud?

Meanwhile, I see from their social media feeds that Devon and Cornwall Police's Diverse Communities Team has plenty to keep it busy.

It held one event in Plymouth to publicise its #zerotolerance2hate campaign, involving Romanian folk dancing and pebble painting.

As it happened, I managed to get my bank to reverse the payment to the hotel.

But - as I explained to the police - if they bothered to investigate a business which is systematically defrauding people they might well find a money laundering operation, a front for the drugs trade or other organised crime.

That is how zero tolerance worked to bring down violent crime in New York in the 1990s.

Police started investigating minor thefts and found it often led them to criminal gangs.

Instead, some police in Britain seem to have a different attitude towards zero tolerance – using it to crack down on the likes of wolf-whistlers.

Sara Thornton's remarks are timely because the Government recently asked the Law Commission to look into whether the hate crime definition should be extended to include offences linked with misogyny, dislike of elderly people and so on.

The idea that Britain is full of hatred towards certain groups is coming to dominate the Government's whole thinking on crime.

Of course, there is some hate crime which really does deserve to be taken extremely seriously – people threatening worshippers emerging from a mosque or daubing swastikas on synagogues – but then threatening behaviour has always been a crime.

The new obsession with hate crime is about something very different.

It is trying to take very minor incidents of rudeness and blow them up into serious offences.

The concept of hate crime is being used as a political tool – such as by the Oxford academic who reported the then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd for a hate crime in her 2016 speech to the Tory party conference, for proposing ways of reducing migration.

West Midlands Police had to investigate and, while they concluded no crime had been committed, they nevertheless had to record it as a non-crime hate incident.

The problem is the catch-all definition used for hate crime – “any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic”  – is an open invitation for anyone to report someone they don't like as a hate criminal.

Surely it should be defined as anything that a reasonable person would think of as a hate crime.

I know many police forces feel they have unfairly taken the brunt of recent financial cuts. They have a case.

Even while declaring an end to austerity in his Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond cut the Home Office budget by £100million.

But refusing to investigate burglary, theft and fraud in order to prioritise the investigation of fashionable non-crimes, such as people being a little rude to each other, is not going to help make the country safe.

Hopefully, the Government and other police chiefs will take Sara Thornton seriously.

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