A Blandmore Conundrum
Imagine that your ex-partner has pulled up beside you on the street and bundled you into his car, locked all the doors, driven out to a remote spot and told you he is about to kill you. Would you:
A) Scream your head off, throw yourself from the car, run to safety and call the police. Move house, cooperate with every police enquiry, be relieved and grateful when the ex-partner is locked up and do everything you can to go to court and have him sent to prison.
B) Manage to sneak a phone-call to the police expressing your absolute terror and conviction of your imminent death, then get out of the car, go home and forget all about it. When the police keep calling refuse to answer the phone or door, then go on a shopping spree to London, whilst firing off a few abusive texts to some other people you don't like, resulting in them calling the police about YOU. When the police finally do catch up with you three days later, hurl abuse at them and deny anything ever happened, and express horror that your ex-partner has been arrested.
Once or twice a year, somewhere in the country, those who answer B end up dead and the police get held responsible. Which is why every call is investigated to the fullest extent it can be, often requiring half a dozen officers for a few days. No matter what you believe about police accountability, I don't really see any other option.
The rest of society doesn't really care about these hopeless cases that suck in endless supplies of police resources, just as they don't really care about drug gangs, domestic abusers and child trafficking. Instead they prioritise dog-fouling, speeding and youths in the street. And at the moment, we pander to their priorities, instead of telling them about the true filfth festering just out of sight around their street corners.
Now that budgets are tighter than ever, the police will have no choice but to choose where to target their resources, and we simply can't drop these massive, resource-intensive sagas no matter how futile our efforts. There just isn't room for "Neighbourhood Policing" any more. Perhaps communities will have to start taking responsibility for their own problems.
But then, that wouldn't be Twenty-First Century Policing.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.