Police’s latest brainwave: Report people who wear too much ‘bling’ to Crimestoppers
By David Wilkes
Watching a tight T-shirt-wearing, cocksure man wearing a gaudy gold chain round his neck strutting down the street is often worth a phone-call to the fashion police.
But one force is taking the idea a step further and encouraging people to shop Mr T-wannabes to Crimestoppers in a novel – some might say barmy – plan to bring down the crime rate.
In the latest example of innovative policing in Britain, the Gloucestershire force is encouraging members of the public to report people wearing too much ‘bling’ during the recession.
They are also urging people to shop anyone who drives flash cars or buys expensive items without the apparent means to afford them during the credit crunch.
The campaign, run with Crimestoppers, was launched by the force today under the title ‘Too Much Bling? Give Us a Ring’ with the aim of cracking down on those who live a lavish lifestyle on the profits of crime
Gloucestershire’s Chief constable Dr Timothy Brain said: ‘In the current time of financial uncertainty, those who live a lavish lifestyle with no discernable, legitimate income become even more apparent.
‘By flaunting their ill-gotten gains criminals signal contempt for everyone who works hard, and act as very poor role models for the younger members of society.
‘There are certain members of the criminal fraternity for whom a prison sentence or some other form of court punishment is not a sufficient deterrent.
‘Many criminals, including drug dealers and burglars, prize the trappings they have gained far more than their own liberty, and, having no need to get a legitimate job, are unconcerned by the impact a criminal record will have on their career prospects.’
But Tory MP and former Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe expressed disbelief at the move.
She said: ‘Is this a joke? If the police spent half as much time tackling crime and getting out on the beat as they do coming out with this ridiculous stuff, we’d all be better off.
‘How are you meant to judge if someone buying a piece of jewellery can afford it? I expect even Posh Spice, like most people, can look a bit down and out some days.’
Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, last year Gloucestershire Constabulary, the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts confiscated nearly £1.8million from convicted criminals and removed £1.4million in ill-gotten gains.
Adrian Foster, from Gloucestershire Crown Prosecution Service, said: ‘We have had incredible success over the last year in taking the profit out of crime and this campaign marks a call for all members of the public to assist in ensuring that crime really does not pay in Gloucestershire.’