Having recently been swindled of a modest sum by some men in tree cutting and gardening mode, my wife and myself decided to refer them to the police fraud squad.
This being C21 the way to do this turned out not to be a visit to the local police station but on-line to police action fraud.
I gather that fraud occurs frequently on-line these days. There are apparently a large number of people about in the UK and abroad, who use their undoubted intelligence not to further mankind or even themselves legally but to attempt by dishonest means, to persuade others to part with some of their personal assets.
In our case the fraudsters took their money promising to do the job when the equipment became available after the bank holiday. Sadly we did not see them again so reported the matter on-line to police action fraud. Endeavouring to speak with someone to update our online report, was extremely difficult though could with patience be done.
Although legal proceedings through the civil courts remains a firm option I was concerned that not only had we been swindled but also by the fact that the fraudsters had pamphleted a large swathe of Wimbledon with their leaflet advertising their tree cutting etc "services", meaning presumably that other people could or would be swindled as well.
The rogues in taking our hard earned cash also took back their brochure making them much more difficult to trace.
I then visited every house in the street in which we live, to enquire as to whether they had retained their copy of the rogues' pamphlet which would I felt assist the police. A positive outcome of this was to meet all our immediate neighbours which in crowded London is not necessarily straight forward. Unfortunately, although everyone reported receiving the brochure, none had retained a copy.
The next port of call was the local on-line neighbourhood community, called "next door worple". An email to other users of that community, produced a copy of the brochure delivered to another home in the area. My wife and myself were able gratefully to collect this that same evening, from a German couple who were very sympathetic.
While word from action fraud was awaited, we decided to refer to our local Member of Parliament who is Stephen Hammond MP - one of the few Tory MPs left in London following the recent UK general election.
Not having referred a personal matter to an MP before, I wondered how he would react and how quickly. In the event his reaction was very positive and speedy within 24 hours. After 5 or 6 weeks from first reporting the incident on-line, we infuriatingly, simply received an email from action fraud, saying that no action could be taken. Following the disappointing reaction of action fraud, Stephen Hammond MP, referred the matter to a local police inspector.
We were then visited again within 24 hours by two very helpful local police officers who took down full details. They said that the police would try to assist but of course could not promise that the outcome would be positive. The local police reference and other details, were a day or so later, received by email and we were told that the investigation might take a month.
Whatever the result of the police action, I must say that the local MP's willingness to intervene upon request, is very encouraging and in my view, says much that is positive about the UK's parliamentary system.
On the other hand, I gather that the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (Labour) is proposing to close 50% of London's police stations. Given that the sale of police premises in central London over recent years, must have raised £billions, I cannot see that such closures are justified, quite apart from the law and order issue but that is for another time.
Hopefully the eventual outcome of the above will be confirmation that crime does not pay but one can but wait and see.