Friday, March 25, 2011

Watching the Detectives

South east London's pensioners can apparently sleep safe in their beds again, as the notorious 'Night Stalker' burglar/rapist has finally been convicted and locked up. (I must admit, that I thought the 'Night Stalker' was a reporter who kept stumbling across monsters in Chicago, but perhaps I've watched too many ropey 1970s TV series). Never mind that it took the police nearly twenty years to catch him, and that, about halfway through his reign of terror, they actually had a chance to apprehend him. Apparently his car was spotted near the scene of one of the crimes and was traced to his address, but he wasn't in when two detectives called and they never bothered going back. Besides, they were busy trying to pin the crimes on somebody else at the time. In the aftermath of the conviction of the 'Night Stalker', I heard an academic on the radio pointing out that in most of the high-profile cases of the past forty years or so, the perpetrators were caught by accident, in spite of the police's investigations, rather than because of them. Indeed, the 'Night Stalker' immediately brought to mind the 'Yorkshire Ripper' who, likewise, the police had had an opportunity to apprehend part way through his killing spree. But they let him go, and he was eventually arrested for a motoring offence, which led to the discovery of evidence in his car linking him to the Ripper murders.

All of this comes as no surprise to me - many, many years ago I lived next door to a police detective. OK. I'll admit that we're not talking about one of the major metropolitan forces here, but rather a rural constabulary. Nevertheless, I would still have expected their CID officers to represent their keenest investigatory minds, rather than someone whose main investigatory technique seemed to consist of sitting in a dodgy pub, drinking several pints, before leaping up, pointing at some well known local small time crook and shouting: "It was him!" It was once alleged that he and the landlord of a local pub went on an out of town drinking spree, crashing the landlord's car on the way back. My neighbour reportedly leaped from the car, shouting "Let's get out of here before the filth arrive". They managed to make it back to down, on foot, in the dark, and reported the car as stolen. With investigators of this calibre, is it any wonder that British crime fiction has traditionally been dominated by amateur sleuths, from Sherlock Holmes to Miss Marple? Still, these days the police have got an excuse for failing to actually solve any crimes - all their officers are far too busy working undercover, infiltrating legitimate protest groups. Thank God we can all sleep safe in our beds, knowing that we're safe from those bloody environmentalists.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home