VICTIMS of crime in Bolton are being asked to turn detective to solve their own cases.
A cyclist from Astley Bridge was asked to scour the internet to see if he could see his stolen bike for sale — while another man had his bank card taken and was told to go to the shops where it had been used and ask for CCTV footage.
Police and crime commissioner Tony Lloyd said a report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate Constabulary (HMIC) — which backs up the Bolton cases — highlighted “serious areas of concerns”.
He said victims must come first and that police should always respond to reports of a crime. He also criticised “savage” government cuts which have reduced the number of officers at the GMP’s disposal.
Alan Mulraney was told by police to log on to websites Gumtree and Ebay to see if he could find his £500 red Aggressor bike after it was stolen outside a doctor’s surgery in Astley Bridge.
However, the 46-year-old was not critical of the police’s DIY detective advice.
He said: “I could not believe it when I came out. They had just sawed through a £40 lock.
“I use this bike to go everywhere and I spent ever such a lot of money on it. I’m gutted.
“There were plenty of people coming in and out at that time and I can only have been in there 15 minutes.”
“The police have been very good. They have been more than helpful.
“They rang me back when they said they would and were very sympathetic and gave me some advice.
“They say they will come round and have a chat with me about it and go back to the doctor’s surgery to look at the CCTV."
A police spokesman said officers were called to Waters Meeting Health Centre at 11.30am on Wednesday. No arrests have yet been made.
Mr Mulraney came into The Bolton News office on the day of the theft to launch his own appeal for information.
The thief is described as being about six feet tall and dressed in black at the time of the incident.
The raid was carried out at a busy time for the surgery, so Mr Mulraney is confident somebody might have seen the assailant.
James Dewhurst is another victim who has been asked to solve his own case.
He wrote on The Bolton News’ Facebook page: “I had my bank card stolen and used in the shops. I was told to go to the shops and ask them do they have CCTV as they were off for the weekend.”
HMIC said Greater Manchester Police has been sending PCSOs out to investigate crimes on their own, with the report questioning whether they have the skills required.
Chief constable Sir Peter Fahy described the force’s PCSOs as a “vital part of policing” and stressed that HMIC has rated GMP’s plans to deal with cuts as “outstanding”.
He said: “In certain cases, for crimes such as burglary of dwellings, there was clear evidence of investigation and supervision.
“However, for other offences, such as theft from a motor vehicle, many of which were not attended, some cases were found to have little evidence of meaningful investigation or supervision.
“HMIC identified some examples of victims calling to report crimes and being asked to conduct local enquiries in relation to their own crimes in lieu of a police officer attending.”
Mr Lloyd added: “I want to make sure that the police carry out an appropriate investigation when crime is reported. I firmly stand by my commitment to put victims first and when crime is reported the police must respond.”