Walk-on-by-Britain: 64% of people wouldn't tackle a gang of teen troublemakersIn the past two years alone, the number of citizen's arrests has halved according to a report by Policy ExchangeA separate YouGov poll found that just 27 per cent would step in if they saw a gang drinking and verbally abusing passers byThat figure dropped below 20 per cent in London
00:13 GMT, 12 December 2012
Britain is turning into a ‘walk-on-by’ society in which two-thirds of the public will not confront troublemakers in the street.
In the past two years alone, the number of citizen’s arrests has halved, according to a report by Policy Exchange.
At the same time, a YouGov poll carried out for the influential think-tank found 64 per cent of Brits would carry on walking past a gang of teens who were drinking and verbally abusing passers-by.
'Walk-on-by' Britain: Two thirds of people say that they would not confront troublemakers in the street (file picture)
Apathy: Less than 20 per cent of people in London said that they would step in if they saw a gang drinking and abusing passers by according to a YouGov poll (file picture)
Nationwide, only 27 per cent would step in, and in London, the figure slumped below 20 per cent. Scots are the most likely to intervene, with nearly a third of people saying they would take action.
The report paints a depressing picture of the public’s lack of willingness to participate in the fight against crime.
In millions of cases, they do not even report crimes – potentially because they do not believe they will be solved or taken seriously.
About 9.5million offences were measured by the Crime Survey for England and Wales last year, which is based on interviews with households.
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Report: A string of experts, including the previous Government's anti-social behaviour tsar Louise Casey, pictured, have previously warned that Britain is becoming a 'walk-on-by' nation
In the past two years – during which David Cameron’s Big Society was supposedly taking shape – the figure has halved, from 3,755 to 1,816 citizen’s arrests in London.
Policy Exchange, widely regarded as the Prime Minister’s favourite think-tank, calls for the police to make it easier to report crime.
It says that, by 2020, it should be possible for the public to report crimes by ‘text, emails and social media’.
The author, Edward Boyd, also wants Citizen Police Academies to be set up to train the public – using a mixture of police officers and voluntary groups with relevant expertise – on how to play their part in the fight against crime.
They would be taught everything from how to perform citizen’s arrests safely to how to avoid danger when walking home alone.
Mr Boyd said: ‘The police will always play the central role in the fight against crime, yet the public still has a part to play.
‘It’s quite understandable that most people feel reluctant to be a “have-a-go” hero and it is important that they have the confidence to intervene and know when it is appropriate.’
There have been a string of warnings by experts, including the previous government’s anti-social behaviour tsar Louise Casey, that Britain is in danger of becoming a ‘walk-on-by’ society.
In a report ordered by Downing Street, Miss Casey said people are terrified they will either be attacked themselves or face arrest.
She said the change in attitudes – blamed on a loss of trust in the police – could allow crime to ‘strangle whole neighbourhoods’.
But criminologists say one of the reasons for the fall in citizen’s arrests is a fear of being thrown in jail.
Paul Catlow, 25, was prosecuted for standing up to local teenagers in Sidcup, while George Lonsdale, 27, was locked up after a female mugger he caught in Burnley complained that she had been assaulted.
Both cases were eventually thrown out.