The Police and the Black Country
by Mick Pearson
Adapting To Change
It is said today that change is the only constant. Technology
has advanced so quickly that today's homes, workplace and general
environment bear no resemblance to that of 100 years ago. This
development is in part due to two world wars, war is always a
catalyst for new development, when money, material and minds are
set on new weapons and technologies seeking to out-do an enemy.
Policing has evolved to keep pace with the changes in the last
century. The motor car has gone from a machine that moved so slowly
that it could be preceded by the man with a red flag, to cars
that can travel at speeds more than twice the legal speed limit.
The increased use of the car has led to another problem for the
police - the travelling criminal. I think it is safe to say that
in 1900 most crime was committed within five miles of the home
of the perpetrator.
The type of crimes committed has also evolved. Theft/burglary
and other property crime has increased, a variety of factors contribute
- homes contain more attractive items, human greed and envy appear
to be greater, drug abuse feeds property crime. Other types of
crime have emerged - credit cards have led to fraud and deception,
either by using stolen cards, or by cloning cards. The Internet
has spawned other crimes, pornography, in particular where children
are abused, but also more high-tech crimes such as fraud, hacking
and viruses as well as file sharing (copyright theft) were all
unheard of 20 years ago.
Policing itself has moved with the times - "Panda"
cars were introduced to make the officer able to keep up with
criminals in cars and also to arrive at calls more quickly. Traffic
cars were the response to a raft of new controls on drivers. Communications
- gone are the days of the police box and keeping points, radios
are now the norm, data terminals are on the increase. The next
wave is being rolled out - with the ability to combine radio/mobile
telephone/data terminal in a radio that is only a little larger
than a mobile phone.
Investigation has also benefitted from science, fingerprints
led the way, these are now largely held on computer, DNA is another
relatively recent innovation, the ability to identify a criminal
who leaves behind the most minute amount of trace evidence. Other
forensic techniques can match fibres, bites, handwriting, footmarks,
tyre impressions, the list is endless - what next?
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