Crime scene

Burgled in lawless Britain? Why not report your crime online?

red traffic lightJust dial 999 Website by the Metropolitan Police

You can’t miss that stuff in the Times (paywall, okay, so you might miss it, but you can see the headline) about the lawless streets of Britain. Apparently the public are in fear.

They’re saying the coppers have lost control. But do these people not use the Met Police website? You can now report your crime online. Take control for yourself. Or put it another way, it’s the 21st century, mate, and it’s up to you to sort your shit out. It’s the gig economy, ffs.

Anyhow, it’s a boon. But remember to bookmark the page for quick access if someone is clonking you over the head, nicking your motor, defrauding you on the phone or pissing in your microherb patch.

There’s a great dropdown menu, and you can choose from:

  • Crime (general)
  • Road traffic incident
  • Antisocial behaviour
  • Missing person
  • Fraud
  • Civil disputes
  • Lost and found property
  • Lost or stolen vehicles

An excellent selection, but a bit all over the place. Some aren’t crimes, just things to report if you’re feeling a bit angsty. Would you report a civil dispute to the police? You might as well report a flat tyre to the local barber. Does anyone report lost property to the police, or hand in abandoned socks and umbrellas at the nick?

Nah. If you’re feeling likely to be a crime victim or witness, just bookmark ‘Crime’. Stick to the big stuff.

Mind you, like all these online services (apart from one-click ordering on Amazon) it’s more complicated than it seems. Firstly, there’s a warning. Does it feel like the situation could get heated or violent very soon? Is someone in immediate danger? Do you need support right away? If so, dial 999.

It’s like the classic Viz Comic ad: “Raped? Burgled? Run Over? Why not call the police?” (from an earlier, stupider era, and now altered to read “Mugged? Burgled? Run Over?”, for the later, even stupider era).

Call the Police (Viz Comic)

There’s a bunch of these warnings nowadays. When you phone a doctor’s surgery, there’s a message to say that if you’re having a heart attack, hang up and dial 999. I think they’re for the people who open a box of new shoes and start eating that little bag of grit inside that says ‘Do not eat’.

Anyway, once you’ve established you’re not lying in a pool of your own blood, or standing in one of someone else’s, it’s a bit of rigmarole, with one of those yes/no procedures. Surprised it doesn’t start “Ello, ello, ello”.

Step 1: Is a crime happening right now, is the suspect still at the scene, or is anyone seriously injured or in immediate danger? (Yes/No).

If Yes, please call 999.

If No, check if there’s any clothing, blood, any other bodily fluids, discarded items, obvious fingerprints or footprints. That sort of thing. Basic scene of the crime stuff. It’s a scene.

If Yes, don’t touch any of it, but call 101 (number reallocated from cones hotline). If you can’t do that, then continue online. Tell them where the suspected crime happened. You can choose from:

  • A specific location or address
  • On public transport
  • On a train or at a station (splitting hairs there, given option two, but never mind)
  • Online
  • I don’t know

This is an atrocious user journey, worse than buying a specific-sized telly from Argos. If you select public transport, they ask if it was on a train. If you select I don’t know, it gives you a map. Jesus. But unlike Argos, who still want you to buy the telly, the police are probably perfectly happy for you to give up, wipe down the surfaces and go on your way. You wouldn’t be surprised if the outcome was part of the UX brief. Move along. Nothing to see here. You know the drill.

The rest of the site’s okay. There’s a lot of advice on how to stay safe, such as walking in a straight line and never letting your glass or bottle out of your sight. Not always both simultaneously possible, but worth a try.

And you can stick in your postcode and it’ll tell you how crime is going in your hood. Mine is bright red, with a sort of nuclear glow. But there’s a big smiling plod on the home page who looks in control, so it’s fine.

It’s all part of the service, which the police are now. It might just be nostalgia, but you can’t help thinking it was better as a force. At least you knew where you stood. Up against the wall, usually.

Photograph: Crime scene by kat wilcox from Pexels

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