Britain's have-a-go heroes are least likely Europeans to intervene to stop crime, warns report

Britain's have-a-go heroes have become 'passive bystanders' who are the least likely in Europe to intervene to stop crime, a report warns.

Where once the public stood ready to support bobbies as part of a 'Dixon of Dock Green' culture, today they prefer to leave all responsibility to 'Robocop' police and faceless court officials, it is claimed.

The report by the Reform think-tank blames politicians for seizing ever-greater central control of crime-fighting, raising public fears and promising tougher crackdowns. 

Dixon of Dock Green

Changing times: A 'Dixon of Dock Green' culture has given way to a Britain in which people prefer to rely on 'Robocop' police, a report claims

It says despite Britain spending a greater share of money on the police, courts and prisons than any other developed country, the system is failing to deliver results, and the public feel more disengaged than ever.

The result is that most citizens now believe they have little or nothing to contribute.
Only four out of ten Britons say they would intervene if they saw a group of teenagers vandalising a bus stop  -  the lowest figure in Europe.

In contrast, six out of ten Germans would step in.

The Reform policy report laments the demise of the haveago hero, adding: 'Britons have become "passive bystanders", uninformed about crime and punishment and less likely to participate in maintaining justice than people in other countries.

Lacking the real facts, the public has demanded "something is done", resulting in Robocop justice, ever more centralised and technocratic.'

Ministers have tried so hard to earn political capital from law and order that the Home Secretary and even the Prime Ministers increasingly take ' responsibility for every assault'.

Tighter control from Whitehall  -  in the form of targets  -  has led to an unthinking 'policing by numbers approach'.

The report adds: 'If the face of British criminal justice was once George Dixon of Dock Green, the new face might be the Robocop of Detroit's fictional future'  -  a reference to the movie where a fatally injured police officer is rebuilt as an automaton.

The Government spent £26billion on the police, courts and jails in 2006-7  -  the equivalent of £455 per person.

Yet the public feel increasingly cut off from the criminal justice system, the report warns, citing the 'significant shortage' of people volunteering to serve as magistrates.

It calls for a string of reforms to inform the public better and to give local crime-fighters greater autonomy to come up with local solutions to problems.

More detailed 'crime maps' and information on offenders should be available online, and locally-elected 'justice commissioners' should be responsible for policing and prosecution.

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