Police have stumbled across a surprising new way of getting offenders to give themselves up – they send them a text message.
Sussex Police revealed this simple method was proving “surprisingly effective”, and would likely save a fortune on police manpower costs.
Around 13,000 people are “on the run” in England – or subjected to outstanding arrest warrants, as the official term goes.
At a meeting last week, Sussex Police Crime Commisioner Katy Bourne asked for local stats, and was told there were 542 such cases locally, of which 76 are serious crimes like drug trafficking, serious assault and robbery. A further 404 fall under offences such as criminal damage or theft, while 21 were for the lowest crimes such as drunk and disorderly or minor public order offences.
It was then that Assistant Chief Constable Laurence Taylor revealed that officers send police texts to these criminals asking them to hand themselves in.
Mr Taylor said: “The first thing we do when we get a warrant is we put it through the police national computer and on to our systems and then the warrant is sent to either a divisional resource or another force to be executed.
“Then there’s a whole raft of activity we undertake with address checks, we text message the offender and ask them to give themselves up, and you’d be surprised how effective that is.
“It goes on our briefing systems, we use the media, we visit places of employment, we target vehicles that they use, we do checks with the Department for Work and Pensions, credit checks, a whole range of activities to try and identify those individuals who are outstanding.”
Chief Constable Giles York confirmed they took executing warrants “really seriously”, and said less than five per cent of the 2,011 2015 warrants were still active.
According to Mr Taylor the most serious outstanding warrant is for Joseph Watts, who is wanted for charges of attempted murder from 1991 following an assault on his partner.
Presumably he has not responded to any text messages.