Police must learn lessons from report into trouble

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Although the exact cause of the downwards trend in crime has mystified many analysts, it is fair to say that most of us are grateful for it.

Again this week crime is reported to have dropped in the last year, and if that means that all of us are less likely to be assaulted, murdered and the victims of burglary and robbery, then so much the better.

However, while those major crimes can shatter lives, the most common complaint you will hear about crime in everyday life is the low-level stuff – the anti-social behaviour, the small-scale damage and the nuisance.

And that’s why today’s story is so worrying, as it unpicks the lead-up to the horrific attack in Gosport 18 months ago that left Andrew Toseland needing round-the-clock care.

Firstly, though, it should be pointed out that the police are not to blame for the attack – the perpetrators, attacker Samuel Armstrong and accomplice Brandon Fisher are behind bars.

What is disturbing though is that the newly-released Independent Police Complaints Commission report reveals that there were several calls to police about the flat at the centre of the trouble.

The report paints a picture of an over-stretched police team, but that’s not the only worrying finding. It’s also a picture which shows that police did not use their computer logging system sufficiently well to record the problems and did not communicate with each effectively. In the words of Jason Kenny, the chief inspector for the area, his then sergeant Jim Logan ‘was not on top of the issues at Garland Court’.

It serves as a warning that failures in policing can lead to a real human cost, and also that despite the public pleas that the police force makes for information, when calls are made they are sometimes ignored or at least not used to create a full picture of a troubled area.

We hope for the sake of everyone living in this area that Hampshire Constabulary takes a long hard look at this report and vows never to make similar mistakes. As has been proved by the terrible story of Andrew Toseland, the alternative cannot be contemplated.