With fewer than one in ten burglaries solved, the power of the law seems to be fading fast.
So police are turning to the power of prayer instead.
Churches are to be given details of break-ins and other unsolved crimes in the hope that parishioners’ pleas to God will produce a breakthrough.
Prayer Watch, as the scheme is called, is a ‘spiritual twist’ on the Neighbourhood Watch programme. Lincolnshire police are hoping it will help improve their crime clean-up rate.
It was proposed by members of the county’s Christian Police Association.
Churches will receive regular e-mails about crimes in their area, enabling parishioners to focus their prayers on particular incidents such as burglaries and violent attacks.
Inspector Andy McManus, of Lincolnshire Christian Police Association, admitted he was expecting a sceptical response.
‘I know that praying can make a difference in my work, but it’s all a question of faith,’ he said.
‘As soon as people mention Christian prayer, the cynics instantly think it’s hot air and sandals, but there are no losers in this. We believe that faith can move mountains.’
He claimed winter casualty rates on the roads have been cut since the Bishop of Lincoln started blessing the council’s fleet of gritting lorries.
‘We pray over the gritters in the winter and the casualty reduction rate has plummeted, it really has.’
But his predictions of scepticism proved correct.
Local hairdresser Vikki Elliott is still smarting after her experience with justice. She cornered a vandal after he smashed a window at her salon in June only for police to free him soon afterwards. He received a police caution, while his two accomplices have never been caught.
‘They should be praying I don’t catch up with them,’ she said. ‘What happened to old-fashioned police work?
‘I respect people’s individual beliefs, but I think they’re living in cloud cuckoo land if they think praying will solve crimes.’
The scheme, the first in the country, has the backing of the national Christian Police Association as well.
The association’s head, retired Metropolitan Police officer Don Axcell, said it is a ‘brilliant’ idea.
‘I’m a great believer in the power of prayer and all I’d say to the sceptics is that I’ve seen it work too many times for it to be a coincidence,’ he added.
Home Office figures show Lincolnshire police solved 10.8 per cent of burglaries last year, compared to an average of 17.2 per cent for similar forces.