Revealed: Rape, kidnap and 132 ‘hidden’ crimes

12 june 2008.'Police Community Support Officers at the police cordon on Mexborough Avenue, Chapeltown, after a shooting.'pcso
12 june 2008.'Police Community Support Officers at the police cordon on Mexborough Avenue, Chapeltown, after a shooting.'pcso

Police are hiding crimes including kidnap and rape to try to dupe the public into thinking Scarborough is safer than it is.

That’s the scathing view of the former chairman of a police watchdog, after The Scarborough News unearthed scores of crimes the force didn’t want you to know about.

In the space of just one week, drugs were trafficked and a small girl raped and police dealt with dozens of violent attacks and burglaries.

None of this was made public by the police in Scarborough.

“There is just smoke and mirrors to make sure there’s just no bad news,” said Jane Kenyon-Miller, the retired former head of North Yorkshire’s Police Federation. “The press is the bridge between the police and the public, who rely on them to know what’s going on.

“But these figures show that the public are being hung out to dry as to what’s going on in their neighbourhood.”

The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information act, show there were 132 crimes between March 2-8 this year.

The offences range from assaults to child cruelty and arson.

In one incident, a woman reported she had been raped.

In some cases North Yorkshire Police says it sometimes won’t disclose details as to not compromise a potentially tricky investigation.

But our police probe found the vast majority of offences that week are still unsolved.

In 85 of the cases, the investigation has either stalled, been scrapped or a decision has been made not to bring a prosecution. Six investigations are still ongoing.

Mrs Kenyon-Miller feels the force needs to start being more open with the press and the public in order to solve crimes.

“(This investigation) just shows the complete breakdown between the press and the police but the police need to remember the press is the main link between them and the public.

“Gone are the days of an open and transparent relationship.

“The press is the link between the public and the police, so how do the public understand if their neighbourhood is safe or not?”

North Yorkshire claim that’s done through the Home Office’s website, the centrepiece of which is the highly championed crime map.

The map is designed to show residents where and when a crime happened, what it was and what the police have done about it.

North Yorkshire Police say the website is updated on a “monthly level”.

However, as of going to press, Scarborough’s map hadn’t been updated since June.

That means beside the limited information it’s put out through it’s communication channels, the public have not been told about anything that’s happened in Scarborough and Ryedale since the start of the summer.

But during this crime blackout period, the force have deemed dozens of crimes newsworthy.

These include:

* Some candles being shoplifted

* A guinea pig stolen

* A car being scratched

This week the force released one press asking for information relating to a crime which occurred six weeks ago.

But Mrs Kenyon-Miller said the force need to be open with the public about the crimes they are seeing day-to-day in their streets, villages or estates.

“Forget going on (Home Secretary) Theresa May’s website, the public want to know what’s going on in their patch.

“People, be it in Burniston or Eastfield or wherever they are, what to know what’s really going on now and not having to wait to look at some dots on a map.

“They want that reassurance and the police need to give that - but it is only through the press that they can do that.

“This approach is doing them no favours.”

A former head of the now defunct Police Federation, Mrs Kenyon-Miller was effectively replaced by the creation of Police and Crime Commissioners.

The woman who took on that 70k-a-year role in North Yorkshire, Julia Mulligan, was elected into the watchdog role on the promise that she would hold the force to account.

She has not commented on our findings.

But a North Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: “For the last four years, North Yorkshire Police has published all incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour for the entire force area – including the Scarborough district - on the Home Office website This is open for everyone to see, including members of the media.

“The details are updated on a monthly basis and are available down to street level.

“As well as showing what crime has occurred, the system also shows what actions the police or courts have taken. With such detailed and comprehensive information available, police activity has never been so accessible, transparent and accountable to the public as it is today.

“We very much encourage local communities to take an active interest in their police service, and in addition to the details on there is a wealth of information available on our website and social media platforms, and you can even sign up to receive the latest news direct from North Yorkshire Police.

“We hope people will take full advantage of these opportunities to engage with us, to discover what is happening in their local area, and more generally across the force.”

And the spokesperson for the force, which did assist with press enquiries during the investigation period, added: “Our communications team is extremely busy, liaising regularly with more than 50 media outlets across the county on day-to-day activity as well as major incidents – but, of course, there are occasions when police activity cannot be shared to avoid compromising a live investigation.

“This important operational decision is taken on a case-by-case basis by the investigating officer, with the needs of the victim at heart.

“Serving the needs of the media is important, but protecting victims, and making sure we do not compromise the process of securing justice, must always come first.”

Our investigation found that across the borough that week, a crime was committed on average almost once every hour.

These offences were:

Arson not endangering life - 1

Assault with injury - 11

Assault with intent to cause serious harm

Assault without injury - 12

Assault with injury on a constable - 1

Burglary in a dwelling - 6

Burglary other - 10

Criminal damage to a building other than a dwelling - 1

Criminal damage to a dwelling - 4

Criminal damage to a vehicle - 8

Cruelty to children/young person - 2

Dangerous driving - 1

Harassment - 3

Interfering with a motor vehicle - 1

Kidnapping - 1

Obscene publications - 2

Other criminal damage - 3

Other notifiable offences - 1

Other theft - 13

Possession of an article with blade or point - 1

Possession of cannabis - 7

Possession of other controlled drugs - 2

Public fear, alarm or distress - 3

Rape of a female - 1

Rape of a female child - 1

Robbery of personal property - 1

Sexual activity involving a child - 2

Sexual assault on a female - 1

Shoplifting - 18

Theft from a vehicle - 4

Theft in a dwelling - 4

Theft of a vehicle - 2

Theft of a bike - 2

Trafficking drugs - 1