Page last updated at 23:11 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 00:11 UK

'Mock muggings' to tackle crime

A mock mugging
Mock muggings: What would you do?

Mock muggings should be staged across the UK to test the public's willingness to aid victims and report crimes, a charity has said.

The group Witness Confident says it wants to challenge a "walk-on-by" culture to street crime.

It says the disengagement of the criminal justice systems makes it harder for communities to fight crime.

The group also wants to run an online social network so people can map crimes to help witnesses come forward.

Last year, a major government review warned that public confidence in the criminal justice system had fallen, partly because they felt "cut off" from its workings.

It said there was a "significant gap" between what people want on crime and justice and what they felt they had received.

Witness Confident, which is launching on Wednesday, says it wants to challenge some of these problems.

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It says that the recent rise in street violence can only be reversed if more people believe they can make a difference.

It says individuals should take greater steps to act if they witness a crime, particularly street violence.

They should call for help, use mobiles to photograph or film incidents and more actively find the local police.

Testing the public

Guy Dehn, head of the charity, said it had come up with a dozen ways that people could quickly make a difference.

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These include faking incidents in broad daylight to see how people react.

"Mock muggings can be a way of working with the police to test public reaction," said Mr Dehn.

"Don't be a have-a-go-hero unless you really know what you are doing. But if you are there and can take a photo safely, then that can make the difference."

He said the charity would also soon launch an online crime mapping tool. The maps would allow both victims and witnesses to post details of what they had experienced or seen as a potential means to help police clear up more cases.

Mr Dehn criticised changes in the way police can be contacted, including a move away from using boards on streets calling on witnesses to specific crimes to come forward.

"It's a time consuming and laborious process to report a crime. We need to take all the hassle out of it for the public.

"And by doing that, we make it more likely that people will engage and that means that there will be less crime because people will get caught."

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