Crime victims are turning in to amateur sleuths like Sherlock Holmes as police budget cuts bite
Crime victims are turning in to amateur sleuths like Sherlock Holmes as police budget cuts bite Getty

Crime victims are being asked to become amateur sleuths like Sherlock Holmes and conduct their own investigations by hard-pressed police forces.

Budgets cuts mean some police forces have been forced to "give up" investigating certain offences, according to a new report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

Victims of so-called 'low level' offences, such as crimimal damage and theft, are on occasion being asked to gather their own evidence.

The victims-turned-sleuths are being encouraged to gather potential witnesses by talking to neighbours and finding out if any CCTV footage of the crime was available.

HMIC revealed the finding, saying: "A trend is emerging of asking victims in effect to carry out investigations themselves."

A rise in desk bound policing by officers who remain in stations was identified as the cause of victims taking up the metaphorical magnifying glass to get sleuthing.

Worryingly, other offences such as vehicle damage were hardly being investigated at all, said the report.

In other cases, offenders were slipping through the fingers of police because no effective system was in place to track down named suspects and wanted persons who failed to answer bail.

The report said: "It is a matter of extreme concern that some forces were not able to provide the data requested on these points. Timely and effective pursuit of named and wanted suspects should be core business for the police.

"Inspectors were also particularly concerned by the number of 'desk-based investigations', where forces decide to deal with a crime over the telephone without any attendance at the scene, without face-to-face contact with the victim."

Roger Baker of HMIC told the BBC: "It's more a mindset, that we no longer deal with these things. And 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'."