2 seatbelt violations = 1 rape?

Charles Oliver notes that police in Thames Valley, England have set up a point system they say will help officers prioritize their work. The goal for each officer is to rack up at least 200 points a month:

They’ll get 10 points for stopping a drunk driver, or for arresting a rapist. Pulling someone over for not wearing a seat belt or talking on a phone while driving must be half as important, because that will get an officer five points. And catching a shoplifter brings just two points.

At least one person has pointed out that this might not be the best way to prioritize:

Paul Fawcett, of Victim Support, said: “Target- setting is good but it won’t help public confidence in the system if low-level crimes are targeted at the expense of more visible crimes. “It is vital that the public feel a sense of trust and engagement in what the police are doing so that they report crimes, get help and criminals are caught. “If the public feel the police are chasing minor crimes at the expense of more serious crimes where a victim has been burgled, robbed or assaulted, their confidence in the system will drop.”

Article here. For U.S. examples of screwy priorities, go here and here And for an example of proper prioritization, go here. Here Bjorn Lomborg addresses prioritization in environmental policy. Oliver also points to this article which tells the story of a Pennsylvania lawmaker who has introduced a bill that would force motorists to use a modified doggie seat belt or carrier box to restrain their pooches. For my take on seat belt laws, go here and here. And in related news:

Police in Sacramento, California announced Wednesday that they would use $5 million in federal money to begin cracking down on auto enthusiasts who modify their vehicles. The money will be used to form an undercover “Drag-Net” unit to stop motorists who appear to be driving modified cars. The concept, which originated in San Diego in 2001, has been spreading throughout the state and generated significant revenue for the California Highway Patrol and local departments. In Santa Fe Springs, for example, twelve officers on Drag-Net duty issued 300 citations and impounded 50 vehicles in just one weekend. Several cities have drag-racing ordinances that allow police to auction off seized cars and keep the profits. Under Drag-Net, San Diego officers come to train other departments how to look out for what they believe to be tell-tale signs of illegal modification such as window tinting, large spoilers, extra gauges or racing stickers. Police say this gives them probable cause to stop and inspect a vehicle and its engine compartment.

More here.