Hounslow Police officers have announced that it is no longer their policy to investigate shoplifting if the value of the goods stolen is less than £50.
Giving their report to the Chiswick Area Forum meeting last week, two local police officers Dinesh Pillay and Adam Pitts confirmed that although Chsiwick is not a high crime area there is a fair amount of shoplifting which goes on in Chiswick High Rd but they don’t have the resources to investigate every theft and would only do so if the value of the goods stolen was over £50.
I know things have moved on a little from the days when you were hanged for stealing a sheep, but this seems to me a staggering admission of the inability of the modern Metropolitan Police to do the basic police work the public expects.
Big companies with security staff and legal teams can pursue a civil case, but where does that leave the poor beleaguered small independent business? John Farrant, co-owner of homeware shop Greige on Bedford Corner, told me if they caught a shoplifter they would expect the police to do something and that they aren’t equipped to take action. “I don’t think many people would have the money or the time to pursue a civil case” he said.
Councillor Sam Hearn told me the news didn’t surprise him; the police have to focus on their priorities and while as a politician he would prefer them to be able to take action “even if I jumped up and down it’s not going to change anything”. He said shopkeepers have to take responsibility for pursuing theft and in the past have “possibly made things too easy for thieves” by not taking proper measures such as using CCTV.
Al Pacino in Serpico
Undercover cops on the look out for burglars
Burglary appears to be a higher priority for the police locally. This same police report revealed that there have been plain clothes operations in Chiswick in an attempt to spot burglars.
I have to admit I drifted into a reverie at this point as I tried to work out what mufti for going under deep cover in Chiswick might look like. Al Pacino in Serpico? (1973) Apparently the ’70s are back in fashion. A business suit perhaps? Too formal in an area where many people work at home. Chinos then, teamed with a Cuban collar shirt and leather jacket? I decided anything from the Boden catalogue would be perfect cover for male and female officers.
Twenty minutes to respond to a 999 call from Feltham
I came back to the room to hear Cllr John Todd telling the meeting that one of his ward constituents had phoned 999 while witnessing an burglary and it had taken 20 minutes for the police to respond because they had come from Feltham.
Chiswick now comes under one of 12 new Basic Command Units, Ealing, Hillingdon and Hounslow, which is based in Hounslow. Maybe the police in Hammersmith might be persuaded to attend 999 calls in Chiswick, Cllr Todd suggested, especially as some of their officers were still occupying Chiswick Police Station?
The police officers looked uncomfortable but essentially said the computer says no. What they actually said was that Hammersmith wouldn’t even see the calls because of the way the system was configured.
I swear we’re going backwards.