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I've seen a lot in the press lately about a Basildon police initiative to prevent crime. It's been labelled "bother a burglar". Unfortunately I can't find a source document on the police website but these articles from local papers set out what is going on.
The idea is that the police know who commits most of the local crime - mainly its people who've committed crimes before - so by keeping an eye on them much of the crime that might have been committed is prevented. In this case they have chosen to follow a group of five burglars.
The technique has been used before - according to the Witham Times "Operation Bright Shadow was first used by police in Basildon in May 2009 when, in the space of a week, they saw a 44 per cent drop in burglaries." which, in my view, constitutes a very considerable success.
All of this smacks of the policing used by Dixon of Dock Green. A clip round the ear for the local lads before they have done anything, genuinely represents crime prevention.
I'd contrast this with what passes for crime prevention nowadays. The advice to keep your house windows shut and locked even at the height of hot weather, and never to leave anything in your car, for fear of theft, is not so much crime prevention as the prevention of me quietly enjoying my possessions.
I suppose there is a bit of a question of human rights - it could be argued that the burglars are being harassed. Nowhere near as much though as a householder is harassed after a burglary.
I'd propose that the logical conclusion to this is that the police give up detection altogether - They already have apparently in the case of hundreds of thousands of crime deemed difficult to solve - and do nothing but prevention - genuine prevention rather than instructing the public to take ever more precautions.
In a similar genuinely preventive measure the Metropolitan Police have had a crackdown on uninsured drivers as reported in this BBC story. Anyone who is willing to drive uninsured may have a similarly cavalier view of other minor infringements of the law, such as possession of drugs or weapons, and such matters as disqualification to drive or even actual ownership of the vehicle. Uninsured drivers apparently push up everyone else's premiums by £30 p.a., and cause 5 times as many accidents as insured drivers. I applaud this crime prevention measure and will add it to my response to the local plan
And here is the Metropolitan Police view of the uninsured driver operation - "We know from experience approximately 80 per cent of uninsured drivers are criminals. They're also more likely to be involved in crashes and have unsafe cars so we're taking this action to make London's roads safer."