Can't stop crime? Easy, stop reporting it… it's the 'British Way'!
Police to scrap crime signs that bring fear not results
By John Steele
Scotland Yard is planning to abandon street signs appealing for witnesses to crimes because of concern that they generate public anxiety while adding little or no benefit to police investigations.
Senior officers are also concerned that once signs are put up they are often forgotten about, with the result that some have remained on public view long after the offences were solved. Follow-up signs, thanking the public for help when someone has been convicted after an appeal are now being considered.
Yellow "murder boards" have become a common sight around the country. Some reports have put the number of boards at more than 1,000 a year in London.
Officials suggested this was too high but the true number at any one time is difficult to ascertain, as there is no central control or regulation over their use. Though they are supposed to be used only for murders or serious crimes, it is thought some officers put out boards for a range of lesser offences.
Senior Scotland Yard officers have been conducting research to find out whether the boards contribute to the fight against crime.
It appears that, so far, there is little evidence that they solve crimes. But one official said: "It's difficult to tell because most of them just have the police inquiry number and no one really logs whether the caller saw a board or read the local paper or whatever. We are trying to assess how effective they are in bringing forward witnesses or information."
What is clear to many senior officers, however, is that the boards can cause significant public disquiet.
"This is not about road traffic accident appeals, which will probably stay," said the official. "This is an issue about the big yellow signs which appeal about murders or serious attacks. We are considering whether there are better ways of seeking information, which are more reassuring for the public. The boards go up where it is thought they are needed but they sometimes don't come down quickly enough."
One board, warning about a pick-pocket problem, was still in place after four years, long after the criminals involved had been brought to justice.
The official said: "If we do still use them, should we not have follow up boards saying 'we solved this'?"
Bump for the late shift…