Where should we draw the thin blue line on crime?

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STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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This is a thorny issue – there’s no getting around that fact.

Gary Badnell suffered damage to his car in a hit-and-run incident late one night when it was parked outside his home in Cosham.

This is a crime, that’s indisputable. It’s true no-one was hurt and incidents like this are all too common, but Hampshire Constabulary’s response does leave something to be desired.

The police say they carried out their ‘proportionality test’ and decided that the nature of the incident didn’t warrant them investigating any further.

While we doubt anyone would seriously expect them to throw all their resources at the investigation – sending up spotter planes, unleashing tracker dogs and the like – it is easy to see why the victim here feels aggrieved.

Even when Mr Badnell and his partner put in their own time and effort tracking down CCTV, they were told that no further action would be taken.

And the message it sends out to those who commit an offence like this from the police couldn’t be clearer: go for it, we’re not going to chase after you.

Hampshire Police Federation recently launched its #CutsHaveConsequences campaign. It makes dire warnings about the impact of future cuts and the force’s ability to do its job. As federation chairman John Apter acknowledges in his comment, it’s sad to admit that the police simply cannot attend to every incident.

But are incidents like Mr Bradnell’s the thin end of the wedge if these warnings about staffing levels and the ongoing reduction in bobbies on the beat are correct?

Will the line in that proportionality test have to move to accommodate cuts in officers?

With reports that confidence in the police is in the doldrums, this does nothing to help.

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