Just submitted this for consideration in next week's local press...
A couple of months ago my mountain bike got nicked from the Kirkgate outside The Creepy Wee Pub in broad daylight and I subsequently submitted a letter to the Dunfermline Press (Letters, May 20th 2010) expressing my disillusion at the way bicycle theft is regarded by the police.
At the time, I realised that the longer it took for those who "serve and protect" us to investigate the theft, the less likely there would be of any recovery, so, I pulled out all the stops and did everything I could to encourage investigation within the first few days after the theft took place.
My main objective was to see Fife Council's CCTV footage of the crime being committed in order to determine if I, or anybody that was present on the day of the crime, recognised the thief, however, at the time I was told that the footage was grainy and that any chance of me being able to view video stills of the event was "highly unlikely" given current Data Protection laws. As a result, I wrote the bike off, took the hit and bought another bike, making sure to insure it this time.
Fast-forward a couple of months and I get a phone-call from the investigating officer telling me that she finally has an image of the criminal riding my bike down St Margaret Street for me to look at.
Well, whoopty-do, thinks me, for what it's worth I might as well check this baby out.
Needless to say I didn't recognise the thief, despite the image being a pretty damned clear one: it was the usual kind of shaven-headed gorilla, eyes real close together with protruding forehead resembling some kind of human prototype; tearing down the road on my two-wheeled friend, locked in criminal-bliss, sphincter probably twitching like a base-jumping adrenalin junky.
"Sorry," I say to the officer, "but it looks like half the male population of Dunfermline, can I keep the image to show around?"
I might've well asked for a shot of her truncheon as apparently the image is police property and not allowed into the public domain.
I am therefore confused. Did this event actually take place in reality? Didn't this image show a picture of a crime being committed? What happens next in trying to identify this goon? How on earth can it be okay to show CCTV footage to millions of viewers on Crimewatch, but not be okay for me to get a copy of this photo?
The answer hit me after I signed a form stating that I couldn't identify the criminal. Basically, it's a case of sign here, case closed, another unsolved statistic and a burden off police hands.
I don't blame the investigating officer. She probably did everything in her power under a failing system, but having worked in CCTV a number of years ago, I know that it doesn’t take two months to get an image printed off…unless, of course, you work for Fife Council.