Is there a commercial future for the policing of Vehicle Crime?
06/2018 by Dr Ken German:
Ask anyone in the UK today who deals in the enforcement, prevention and disruption of vehicle & crime and they will tell you that their belief in the ability of police to both deal with and control these escalating offences in the future appears pretty uncertain.
Government officials and senior police officers attending the recent UK’s National Vehicle Crime Conference held in Loughborough for instance were unanimous in expressing their concerns about the dramatic changes in the very dynamics of the current crime epidemic and suggested an urgent re think was required before things got out of hand.
One topic more than any other discussed was of course the continued depletion of police resources and the consequential loss of expertise so important nowadays in dealing with modern vehicle crime.
Whilst the current terrorist threat has seen a huge demand for officers posted away from ‘normal’ duties it was unanimously agreed that an unacceptable rise in the latest vehicle theft figures continues to show that the organised crime gangs are tightening their grip on the technology and fraud methods necessary to sustain their multi million pound enterprise.
Unacceptable news from around the UK reported that four adjoining police forces had to amalgamate their low priority vehicle crime units and agree to deploy just one officer to deal with and examine all motor vehicle crimes often within an estimated two hundred & fifty-mile radius.
Other concerns discussed at this rather unique conference was the continued availability of advanced technical equipment to the criminal that offers access and alteration to vehicle electronics, new gadgets that compromise a vehicles OBD systems, portable high-powered disc & laser cutters and endoscope invasion that allows exploratory access to the contents of lorries, garages and other buildings prior to theft.
Theft from commercial vehicles and HGV’s has also become a serious issue in itself with many stories of dealerships and private contractors losing their livelihood some suffering two and three attacks in one month, resulting in either a huge rise in their insurance premiums or in some cases being offered no insurance at all.
The news that more motorcycles and scooters are now being stolen than are sold here in the UK was a unwelcome shock and the new ambiguous chase/no chase rulings received from the police federation simply compromised the ability of many forces to deal effectively with these crimes. This banning of ‘Blues and Two’s on a ‘shout’ is in essence declaring a lack of any legal protection to officers who are basically told to drive as a civilian should – within the law. This has yet to fully resonate with the Fire Brigade and Ambulance services who assume they may well be under a similar ruling.
With an annual bill of £176 ½ billion pounds, fraud in the UK is by far the biggest burden on police time and today’s victims making any such allegations are initially encouraged to visit ‘Action Fraud’ on line and fill in the necessary report themselves to receive an auto-generated crime number.
Soon it is expected that vehicle theft will also be turned into a self-reporting facility that will cause data suppliers records to be auto-populated, insurers & financiers to be notified immediately and ANPR used to locate suspect vehicles.
The future of policing vehicle crime surprisingly appears to have taken advantage of the opportunities offered by various selected partners and sponsorship agreements and several success stories have been convincing enough to bring a good case for future commercial involvement in aiding the police with autocrime offences in all but the arrest.
One example for instance is the rise in popularity of the Tracking Device which has seen these companies reporting unprecedented successes with some posting as much as a 90% recovery rate in the last 12 months. According to officers on the ground this technology clearly makes their work much easier particularly as many such companies now have their own efficient back up teams and support systems.
Recent improvements in the reduction in size of these devices together with longer battery lives and a general ease of use not to mention affordability has been welcomed by the paranoid consumer as the must have necessity for an occurrence that is nowadays more likely to happen to them than not!
Another success story has been the new covert DNA identification markings which can positively identify an owner or his property. Again the police have found these paramount to obtaining both the correct identification and true provenance of stolen vehicles, plant & agricultural equipment and leisure goods that have had their serial numbers removed.
Insurance company investigation units are already on a par with the police in relation to the expertise required in vehicle & property crime investigations and will no doubt take on a more proactive role in the future clearly a move that would satisfy both parties.
Banks and Credit companies too are following suit with their investigation, liaison & support units as do Hire & Rental companies who have been badly targeted in the past and who remain a major target for the fraudsters and have created their own active investigation & crime support teams who are known to work well with the police.
Manufacturers benefiting from employing experienced investigators to deal with matters affecting their company brand, Forensic Laboratories and their experts dealing with crucial identification evidence, Authorised contractors working in vehicle repatriation, Locksmiths offering advice regarding key cloning and other companies who deal with Vehicle Data, Plant Equipment, Caravan and Leisure goods, they all share best practice & need to be recognised for their past contributions, and ability to lighten the load of the police, much of which is being offered freely to the police.
The priorities of today’s policing are those that we all recognise but commercial partnerships have been successfully tested and will clearly play a part in the future battle against the car criminal.