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Could Do More

by msecadm4921

Car park operators, police and local authorities can all do more to tackle vehicle crime, claims a National Audit Office report.

The report recommends that the Home Office encourages all hospitals and railway companies to make their car parks secure. England and Wales has only 132 hospital and 125 railway station car parks with a ‘secured’ award.The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency needs to improve the accuracy of its vehicle records to help the Police identify stolen vehicles better. The NAO adds that the Home Office needs to remind local authorities of their obligations to set up a register of motor salvage operators (who could steal the identity of written-off vehicles to enable stolen vehicles to be re-sold).

CCTV varies

CCTV has reduced vehicle crime, the report found, although performance varies. The report added that many car park operators remain sceptical of whether the benefits of improved security outweigh the costs. CCTV seems to be most successful, the report added, when installed alongside other measures, such as lighting and fencing or more visible staff. The Home Office has contributed £965,000 since 2001 towards the Safer Parking Scheme and its predecessor the ACPO Secured Car Park Scheme. As featured last issue, parking facilities that pass a police assessment are awarded a Park Mark. In December 2004 1,633 car parks held the award – a rise compared with the previous name, but still below a target of 2000 holders. The NAO reports that the Home Office is to review car park operators’ work on crime in April, and warns that all options, ‘including legislative change’ will be considered. The report praises a police scheme in Portsmouth, where the city council parking department cut bushes to improve visibility and put up warning notices in high-crime car parks, and introduced some talking parking meters, which give a spoken warning in crime hot-spots.

On track

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has provided police with vehicle record data sufficient to enable them to trace the registered keeper in 90 per cent of cases. However, its absolute vehicle record accuracy (with 32 per cent of vehicle records with some level of inaccuracy) must be improved, the NAO says, to allow more effective use of automated enforcement. Since 2003 the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has had a computer link to the motor insurance industry’s anti-fraud and theft register. Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, said: “The Home Office is on track to meet its target of a 30 per cent reduction in vehicle crime between 1999 and 2004 which is a significant achievement. However, the continuing number and impact of these crimes means that momentum needs to be maintained once the deadline for this target has expired.” p

More ANPR use

ANPR was praised at the launch of a new Government strategy for policing the roads.

The strategy stresses more use of new technology such as ANPR, according to Home Office Minister Caroline Flint. She said: “Officers using ANPR make nine times the number of arrests and contribute to three times the number of offenders brought to justice compared with a conventional officer. But, technology is not the whole picture – the strategy will ensure that there is an adequate police presence on the roads to deal with significant problems which cannot be detected by technology, including drink and drug driving, and to help wider crime reduction.” The strategy says: “Research shows significant links between involvement in other criminal activity such as theft and burglary and the commission of motoring offences. This is reflected in police experience that active road policing contributes to wider policing, including the detection and arrest of criminal suspects.” The document mentions denying criminals – including smugglers and terrorists – use of the road, but does not go into detail.

Parking exhibition

The Parkex International exhibition and conference is running at the Birmingham NEC from April 19 to 21.

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