Police have no need for psychic aid

Monday 7 September 2015

The bane of police officers' lives is the self-appointed gifted amateur, be they a "detective" or (and this is usually even more annoying) a psychic, medium or witch.

After poor Madeleine McCann disappeared, police received a stream of tip-offs from the clairvoyant community. None of it led anywhere, obviously. These things never do except on the telly.

Perhaps the College of Policing watches too much Midsomer Murders. Because this week the college suggested that police should not rule out psychic sources but rather "evaluate them in the context of the case" - which verbiage means what, exactly? Anyone? The charity Missing People says its own research suggests that psychics provide absolutely no help or comfort to families searching for loved ones. Of course they don't.

Can you think of one such case that was solved by the local Mystic Meg? But that's never stopped them trying. In a further statement of the bleeding obvious, the college adds helpfully: "High-profile missing person investigations nearly always attract the interests of psychics and others, such as witches and clairvoyants."

You don't say!

Yup, all sorts of strange folk have always emerged from the gloaming after a crime to buzz around, full of self-importance and misplaced confidence in their "special gift".

They are a complete distraction and for the college to ask officers to waste precious time evaluating the crackpot theories they come up with is beyond daft: it's irresponsible.

Missing persons cases and other serious crimes are tracked and cracked with evidence, not "instinct". Otherwise, all is chaos, superstition and baleful prejudice.

I remember two women sitting behind me on a bus, looking at a newspaper photo of the accused man in a celebrated murder trial, a hearing I was covering for my own paper.

"Look at him," I heard one snort. "You can tell just by looking at him that he did it. Evil face. He's guilty as sin."

It had been a long day in court. I turned around and politely asked for her name and address. "What for?" she asked suspiciously.

"So I can send it to the Lord Chancellor with a letter describing your remarkable gift.

"He can dismantle the UK's entire criminal justice system on the spot. All we have to do is send a photo of suspects to you and you can tell us right away if they did it or not. It'll save so much time and money on lawyers and juries and things!"

Rude of me but as I say it had been a long day. And I'm no soothsayer but before she finished opening her mouth to reply, I had the strangest feeling what she was about to tell me to do. And where to go.

Read Richard and Judy's Express column in full here.
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