VICTIMS of crime face a postcode lottery when it comes to getting justice or whether police even attend the incident, according to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

Offences such as criminal damage and car crime are on the verge of effectively being decriminalised due to a lack of police resources because there are not enough officers to respond or investigate.

In some cases victms are being asked to investigate themselves.

The report by Inspector Roger Baker, forrmerly the chief constable of Essex Police, looked into all 43 UK forces.

It looked at how police time is used as well as how crime is investigated and how offenders are, or are not, brought to justice.

However several forces, including Essex Police, were unable to provide details of which reported crimes they attended.

Mr Baker said: “We were concerned to find a member of the public will receive a different response from the police for the same type of crime or incident, depending on where they live; this sort of postcode lottery has to stop and a consistent approach applied across England and Wales.

“It is only by fully understanding how they use their staff that police forces can ensure that they are efficient and responsive.

“We found this vital element of evaluation and analysis is still lacking in the majority of forces, with fewer than a quarter of forces investigating demand in order to prioritise and organise their workforce.

“In this age of austerity it’s more important than ever that forces understand how to prioritise their resources.” 

However Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston launched a robust defence of Essex Police.

He criticised the report for trivialising the issue.

He said: “The HMIC ‘core business’ report contains appendices with tick boxes but little specific commentary or context which would help inform residents about the policing service they receive in their county.

“From my reading of the report, Essex Police scores highly in several important areas.  However, through a tick box, HMIC has identified the force as one of those that was ‘unable to provide details of the reported crimes that they had attended’ and described this as ‘unacceptable’. 

“I do not accept that.

“Fundamentally, I will reassure the people of our county that Essex Police will always respond to incidents as a priority when someone is at imminent risk of harm or for some other kind of emergency.”