Abandoned Criminal Investigations On The Increase
The Law Of… getting away with it
A recent freedom of information request on behalf of the Times newspaper has revealed that police forces across the country are abandoning investigations at a faster rate than ever before.
Patrick Campbell, a Motoring Offences Solicitor with Simpson Millar, takes a look at what's going on.
No Further Action
According to the recently released statistics, more than 1.5million criminal investigations have been abandoned over the course of the past 4 years. Both violent and non-violent crimes are falling by the wayside due to the practice of screening out, where cases are dropped and marked with No Further Action (NFA).
The decision to take 'no further action' is usually made when a lack of evidence makes a conviction unlikely, or where the police deem a subsequent prosecution not to be in the public interest.
The number of early-stage investigations that were screened out last year reached 597,315, with insufficient leads being cited as a major stumbling block in pursuing successful cases. This may be linked to resources becoming fewer and farther between, due to the budgetary cuts the Force has taken. The police service has lost 22,000 officers since 2010, along with a great deal of the civilian staff who offered valuable support to the Force, handling administrative duties and other tasks that allowed the frontline to concentrate on policing.
The dramatic rise in abandoned investigations – the figure stood at 361,180 in 2010 – has been branded as 'unacceptable' by some political leaders, while the Head of Research at Victim Support suggested that the government should give the victim a voice in the event of 'no further action', calling for a similar right to review of these decisions as there is when prosecutions are dropped.
The National Police Chiefs' Council, the body that acts as a support network between the various police forces across the country, responded to the news, saying that all reports of crimes were:
"… taken seriously and carefully assessed or investigated […] In the event of no further investigation, appropriate intelligence is captured and made available to local policing teams, and cases reopened if new information comes to light."
Always Seek Legal Advice
Although there is no comprehensive breakdown of these figures, motoring offences will undoubted feature, which, at a time when drivers are being hit hard with harsher penalties, increased sentencing and ever more cunning ways of catching motorists out, highlights the fact that just because you have been accused of such an offence, you should never admit to anything without first seeking legal advice.
"It had previously been Defendants and their lawyers who felt the brunt of sweeping cuts within the Criminal Justice System. However, these figures seem to show that the cuts have extended to the police, who now have to abandon an increasing number of cases."
"This has highlighted the importance of seeking legal advice at the earliest opportunity. The laws that are in place apply not only to Defendants but also to the police and it is important that, should you find yourself in the Criminal Justice system, you seek proper legal advice."
"This ensures you have the best possible representation to minimise your chances of being charged."