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Robocops we aint

I was just reading a BBC news article on the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence and two things stood out to me;

"They have no more idea than I do about what has happened to Claudia," he said.
The police investigation has been scaled back and no officers now work full-time on the investigation.

I think people forget that the Police are made up of individuals...individual human beings, with all the same strengths and weaknesses as everyone else. Our strength comes from our huge budget, our training, our team work, and our access to technology. But we are still human, just with more tools available to us.

It is totally possible, and understandable, that the police can undertake a competant investigation and come up empty handed. We are not robocops, we work in response to evidence...if there is no evidence, we know no more than anyone else. We cannot create evidence out of thin air. As frustrating as this situation is, its a fact of life for police officers and to persist with a case where there is no evidence would be a reckless waste of public money.

In these circumstances, cases should be handed to a centrally funded team of expert case reviewers who are dedicated to playing the long game. They will check the work of their colleagues, identifying any weaknesses in the investigation and dealing with them. They will keep their eye on technological advances, and implement them promptly. They will speak to people, speak to the media, and keep the case open on behalf of the relevant police force until it is solved.

We owe it to the familys to keep the case open, and follow leads when they are found. Cases will eventually be solved. However we also owe a wider duty to the public to allocate resources in a manner that delivers the best service. It would not be proportionate to keep a full team of officers, working full time, on a case with no leads.

I hope that Part 2 of the Winsor report recommends centralising major investigation teams, in the hope that police skill is not obstructed by force borders. It won't change the fact that evidence cannot be invented out of thin air, but it will reduce pressure on individual forces, and hopefully create a 'streamlined' and robust set of systems that manage the short term, long term and cold case cases all under one 'roof'.