IT CAN’T make arrests, chase criminals, or even patrol. But it can cut crime.
This cardboard cutout - and others like it in Harrogate - is proving a powerful deterrent to thieves.
Police statistics show that reported crime rates have dropped as much as 50 per cent in the past year in shops where it stands.
PC Graham Frostick, who is one of three Harrogate policemen to feature on the cutouts, said: “It seems to have a psychological effect - to tell people that we are watching. Certainly, it seems to be working.”
The cutouts are in shops including Asda, Superdrug and the Co-op on Leeds Road, all featuring different policing messages.
“In some places it’s had a really positive impact,” said PC Frostick, of the Safer Neighbourhood Team. “Tesco saw a real reduction in reported crime - by 50 per cent.
“I know there’s one of me in Asda, but even I do a double take when I see it in the corner of my eye, and wonder which officer it is.”
PC Frostick said the cutouts do help to spread the force’s message.
“I had an old lady come up to me and tell me off because she said hello to me and I didn’t said hi back - I had to explain that it wasn’t me but a cardboard cutout,” he said. “It’s a different way of getting information out to people, but your eye is drawn to the message.”
Harrogate Police borrowed the idea from other forces where it has been proved to work, and funding was supplied by the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership.