Opinion piece featured in The West Australian 09 Feb 2017
Why do the nine principles of policing, developed over one hundred and eighty years ago by Sir Robert Peel, have as much significance today as they did back in 1829?
Sir Robert Peel, founder of the London Metropolitan Police, set out the ethical requirements the police force should follow in order to police effectively
The seventh principle states “…that the police are the public and that the public are the police…” Essentially Peel is arguing that the police are an extension of the public and as such cannot police effectively without the public’s assistance.
Otherwise known as ‘The Peelian Principles’, they still hold true today and due to the complexity of modern crimes and criminal activity, the need for public assistance is now more important than ever.
While there is some debate among historians and criminologists as to whether or not Peel actually wrote the nine principles, I don’t think that anyone who has read them can dispute that they have stood the test of time. They are worth a read and can be found quite easily on the internet.
This brings me to the headline ‘No crime is committed in secret’. I will argue until the cows come home that very few, if any, crimes are ever committed in secret. Someone always knows or suspects something, particularly those who have a close relationship with the offender. Offenders talk to and confide in trusted friends. Human nature being what it is, those trusted friends also confide in their trusted friends. If that is the case why are more crimes not solved? The fact of the matter is that not everyone is willing to report what they know, no matter how serious the crime may be. Reasons for not reporting information range from a fear of retribution to feeling that it’s not my business, it happened too long ago or it’s a private matter.
While some may rationalise these as reasonable excuses, the fact that someone does not report something that could lead to the arrest of a criminal is not reasonable. Silence is not golden, in fact it can have deep human and social negative consequences. For example, silence may be the reason why a violent criminal is still inflicting injury on others. Silence may be the reason the family of a murdered child cannot get closure or a child sex offender is still offending against children. For example someone knows who abducted 11 year old school boy Gerard Ross from a suburban street in Rockingham on October 14, 1997 and subsequently murdered him before leaving his body on the side of a track in a Pine Plantation in Karnup, about 20 kilometres away from Rockingham.
I agree that reporting crime can be a daunting exercise for some however, when it is reported it can relieve a tremendous amount of personal stress and anxiety which has built up over many years of silence.
Having regard to the type of information some people may have regarding crimes, it is reasonable to accept that they do not want their identities to be known or made public. An alternative option is to report that information anonymously to Crime Stoppers. Crime Stoppers is an independent, community-based, not-for-profit organisation working in partnership with the community, the WA police and the state government to make Western Australia a safer place for everyone. It was established to provide an important at-arms-length channel whereby members of the public can report anonymously any information they have regarding past, present or future criminal activity.
Crime Stoppers ensures that all individuals are treated anonymously when providing the information they may have. Individuals are not required to give their names and calls, phone numbers and internet service provider addresses are not recorded or traced. Callers are also assigned a unique code that can be used in reward collection if eligible.
It’s never too late to report. No matter how old the information is, it is worth reporting in fact it can be a powerful action.