Now police won’t take FOUND property after revelations that they refused to deal with reports of missing items

  • Officers have decided they will not longer accept found items at police stations
  • They say taking items such as keys and watches is an ‘unnecessary burden’
  • Police will apparently save £1.5million by scrapping the lost property service 

For decades, honest citizens who stumble across valuables in the street have handed them in at local police stations in the hope of reuniting them with grateful owners.

But in the latest cost-cutting measures, chief constables have decided they will no longer accept found items.

They admit the move will be unpopular with the public but say that taking in items such as jewellery, keys and watches is an ‘unnecessary burden’ on cash-strapped forces. 

Chief constables have decided they will no longer accept found item in the latest in cost-cutting measures (file photo)

They say they can no longer afford the ‘significant’ cost and think they will save £1.5 million by scrapping the service. That represents just over 0.01 per cent of the entire police budget.

In future only items that could be used in crime, such as drugs, explosives and weapons, or those containing sensitive information, like mobile phones, passports and bank cards, will be taken in at front counters.

The move comes just months after The Mail on Sunday revealed that chiefs had agreed to stop taking reports of lost property for the purposes of insurance claims.

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It will fuel fears that police are becoming ever more remote from the public as they cut back on foot patrols and encourage people to report crimes online rather than by phone.

The Chief Constables Council agreed to withdraw the service after forces across England and Wales were surveyed, with only Gloucestershire expressing ‘reservations’, according to papers obtained by The Mail on Sunday.

Kelly Scully of the National Police Front Counters Forum wrote that the police has traditionally accepted the responsibility of recording lost and found property – even though there is no legal duty for them to do so in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Police say they can no longer afford the ‘significant’ cost and think they will save £1.5 million by scrapping the service (file photo)

She acknowledged that the public have ‘come to expect this as a service’ but noted: ‘This creates a significant cost.’

She said that 13 per cent of calls to the 101 non-emergency number that were not crime-related were about lost and found property.

‘Managing call demand, recording [items] and storage creates an unnecessary burden on the police service,’ she wrote. Ms Scully suggested ‘re-configuring the service’ so that front counter staff will not accept or record the items and instead encourage the public to keep hold of them.

Items that staff should no longer take in include bicycles, empty handbags and wallets, clothing, umbrellas, keys, spectacles, watches and jewellery.

In her paper, presented to senior officers by Leicestershire Chief Constable Simon Cole, she admitted: ‘There is a risk to customer satisfaction by making this change, nevertheless it is anticipated that this will be low.

‘There are significant savings to be made across the country, estimated to be £1.5 million in front counter and storage costs alone.’

A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman added last night: ‘At a time of increasing serious violent crime, an unprecedented terror threat, as well as increasingly complex demand, the police are focusing our resources on the areas of highest concern to ensure that we continue to keep the public safe.’

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