The Land That Crime Forgot

The Land That Crime Forgot

The land that crime forgot. That’s one of the enduring strap lines for the Isles of Scilly. This piece is not going to aim to burst that bubble but perhaps to better explore what is actually meant by it.

Crime comes in many forms. It gets recorded by each of the 43 Police Forces around the country and identified to a particular location. Some locations are deluged by high volumes of recorded crime whilst others such as Scilly have only a trickle feed. Some crime is sensational, high profile and worrisome and other passes almost unnoticed. It gets totted up at the end of the year and these days gets published on the internet monthly so that we can all see what crime is prevalent in our neighbourhoods through a Government website.

The crimes of burglary, robbery (they are different), assault, anything sexual and drugs are always emotive and disturbing to think are out there. Criminal damage, fraud and driving offences possibly less so. Even when something is recorded as a crime it doesn’t always end up as the same crime type or in some cases a crime at all. It’s a complicated picture which is why I deferred to the experts and tasked one of our Devon & Cornwall Statisticians to conduct the crime count for Scilly for 2011.

The numbers for the different crime types were so low as to have little statistical significance when compared with last year. There were 71 Crimes reported between Jan & Dec 2011. There were no domestic burglaries and no robberies. The most prevalent crime type was theft (22), the next was criminal damage (12). Theft is things like pinching an unguarded mobile, laptop or charity box, taking another’s purse or bag, riding someones bike away and abandoning it and stealing outboards and punts. These things happen every year and I fear will continue whilst precautions are not taken by owners. Don’t leave your mobile lying around on charge, it cost you hundreds of pounds and is easily slipped into a pocket. Lock your bike, simple really, and will save you the bother of walking home. Don’t leave thievable things in your boat, use a lock on your outboard and mark your punt so that it is obviously yours. Criminal Damage is things like damaging cattle fences, scratching cars, breaking windows. There were two drug offences. This equates to two people found with drugs on them for their own use. I prefer to think of it as five drug offences as a further three were drink drive matters which is where people were found with alcohol on them, or in them if you prefer, whilst behind the wheel of a car. Most would agree this is pretty unacceptable these days. There were assaults and other rowdy nuisance behaviour, more than last year but still very low numbers and not the highest in the past decade.

I could reduce that crime count by a sizable percentage. All I have to do is direct my team here not to go on patrol, not address drunkenness in the street or in cars, not search people we think have drugs with them or be dismissive of people who report violence in the home.

I’m not going to do that though. I will look to direct proactive policing, I encourage Islanders to report suspicious behaviour, people who damage fences, drug use and drink drivers. We can act on this. It will generate crime reports and with our low numbers by the end of the year it may even look like crime has gone up. These things will have existed anyway and recording them only shows they are being tackled and not carrying on unchecked. If that bothers you it is comforting to know we can all also reduce the crime count by taking the measures I have outlined above.

For those who have been the subject of crime on Scilly in 2011 I hope it was dealt with to your satisfaction and you gained confidence in us. If not please bring this to my attention so we can up our game.

There really is nothing to be fearful of on Scilly regarding the overall crime levels. I need you to be part of the deterrent too. Make Scilly hostile to criminal behaviour. It doesn’t need to be foremost in your mind, not here, but let it not be the land that forgot about crime.

The Bishop Rock Lighthouse amongst the Western Rocks


About Colin Taylor

Devon and Cornwall Police Officer
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