A private police service is mounting the UK’s first private prosecutions for theft and other “minor” crimes because it claims the police have “given up” taking them to court.
The private firm, which provides neighbourhood policing to residents, firms and shops, says it has set up a new prosecution unit after its teams have apprehended shoplifters, pickpockets and drug dealers only to be told by officers called to the scene to release them.
The former senior Metropolitan police officers who run the My Local Bobby service blame cuts in police numbers which meant officers were reluctant to spend time and valuable resource investigating and prosecuting minor offences.
It comes as an analysis of police data by The Daily Telegraph shows that in some parts of Britain as few as one in 500 personal thefts – such as pickpocketing and shoplifting – are being solved with the criminal charged. The proportion charged is down to 0.2 per cent in Suffolk, 0.3 per cent in Gloucestershire and City of London, 0.6 per cent in Warwickshire, 0.7 per cent in Greater Manchester, 0.8 per cent in Kent, and 0.9 per cent in the Metropolitan Police Service and North Yorkshire for 2018/19.
Overall, for all forces in England and Wales, the charging rate has halved in four years from 2.6 per cent in 2015/16 to 1.3 per cent for the first quarter of 2019/20. David McKelvey, a former Detective Chief Inspector with the Met who set up the service with Tony Nash, a former Met borough commander, said the criminal justice system was in crisis with tens of thousands fewer prosecutions and lenient sentences as “old fashioned” policing had been abandoned.
Their company, TM Eye, started by specialising in investigating and prosecuting counterfeit and fake goods rackets where it says it has brought more than 500 successful prosecutions working with police forces internationally, the FBI and Federal Drugs Administration (FDA).
It launched My Local Bobby just over two years ago to provide residents, local firms and shops with neighbourhood policing more reminiscent, it says, of “Dixon of Dock Green.”