Do the UK police use psychics?

Here are some UK police forces' responses.

by John Jackson © 2006

We've all heard the claims and seen reports in the media of psychics helping the police. The impression given is that the police call in psychics - i.e. that they make systematic use of psychics in their investigations.

If the police were to be using psychics in a professional capacity the issue of spending taxpayers' money on unproven, and indeed disproved, methods would have to be justified. To find out the police's side of this issue, Eddie Silence sent the following letter to the police forces in the UK.

Not all forces responded; however, there are enough replies to conclude that the police do not systematically and actively make use of psychics.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I have been intrigued by the recent television series on Channel Five, which is supposedly testing the claims of people who claim to possess psychic abilities. The television programme, entitled ‘Britain’s Psychic Challenge’ has asserted that police forces routinely use such ‘psychics’ to assist in solving crimes.

I would like to discover where, when and to what public cost such ‘psychics’ have been deployed, and so to this end I have checked with Hansard. It appears that two questions have been asked of Hazel Blears in the House of Commons, by Lynne Featherstone and Simon Hughes. Ms. Blears responded, saying records are not kept centrally, and that the use of ‘psychics’ was a matter solely for the commissioners of respective police forces in the UK.

With this understanding in mind, would it be possible for you to provide details of where, when and at what cost such psychics have been used - if at all - within your force’s jurisdiction? If psychics have been used, might I ask whether their input was useful?

E. Silence

Responses:


DEVON AND CORNWALL CONSTABULARY

Mon, 20 Feb 2006 23:28

Devon & Cornwall Constabulary do not use the "services" of psychics and any persons offering such services are routinely declined.


SURREY POLICE

Tue, 21 Feb 2006 07:52

We do not/have not used this method.

Jonathan Edwards, HQ Registry


CITY OF LONDON POLICE

Tue, 21 Feb 2006 10:11

Dear Sir or Madam, for your information, psychics have never been used by the City of London Police to my knowledge.

Kieron Sharp, Detective Chief Superintendent


METROPOLITAN POLICE

Tue, 21 Feb 2006 13:16

Thank you for your email - I have passed this to the Freedom of Information Unit but as far as I know we have not and do not use psychics.

EMail Office, New Scotland Yard


DURHAM POLICE

Tue, 21 Feb 2006 13:53

Durham Police does not use and would not seek the use of a Psychic for Investigations.

Ian Scott, D/Ch/Superintendent, CID


KENT POLICE

Wed, 22 Feb 2006 11:45

I refer to your request for information on Psychics. We do not keep records of persons who contact police in such circumstances to offer information in a readily searchable form. It would be almost inconceivable for Kent Police to have paid a person purporting to have psychic powers for their assistance. In my personal experience as a police officer with 30 years service, in the aftermath of a major crime many people offer information, as witnesses, psychics or experts. All information is evaluated and considered. Personally, I have never found a person claiming to have psychic abilities to have been of benefit to an investigation.

Kevin Turner, Detective Chief Superintendent


NORFOLK POLICE

Mon, 27 Feb 2006 12:54

To my knowledge, there would be no way of keeping records on matters of this nature as they would be individual policy decisions made by individual Senior Investigating Officers. I have no knowledge of them being formally used in Norfolk, although many psychics often write in with their varying suggestions when a high profile incident takes place. The Psychic Challenge on Channel 5 has provoked a lot of people to call in with suggestions to unsolved cases and these are forwarded to the relevant investigating officers. This evidence has no credibility although it may point to a line of enquiry otherwise not thought of.

Sgt Ed Brown, Norfolk Police


WARWICKSHIRE POLICE

Tue, 28 Feb 2006 17:10

To my knowledge, no psychic has been used to assist any serious crime within Warwickshire. We do get correspondence or telephone calls from people claiming to be mediums or psychic and offering their views or assistance in relation to specific investigations that have appeared in the media, but I would not advocate using them. The police deal in factual evidence admissible in a Court of law and all such evidence must be credible and tangible.

Ken Lawrence, Detective Superintendent


DUMFRIES & GALLOWAY

Wed, 1 Mar 2006 14:04

Whilst it is not the policy of Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary to use 'psychics' in criminal investigations, information from 'psychics' could from time to time be volunteered. I am not aware of any information having been provided by a 'psychic' which has contributed to the evidence chain of a police investigation, however, any information provided is carefully assessed and considered before being pursued. Since these facilities have not been used there have been no related cost implications to the public of Dumfries and Galloway.

I trust that this is helpful Jane Buckley, Executive Support


METROPOLITAN POLICE

Tue, 7 Mar 2006 16:30:32 +0000

Thank you for your recent enquiry concerning the use of psychics by the police. We have conducted a search of our indexes but have been unable to identify any relevant records relating to any official use of psychics. There is, however, a historical case where this played a major part. This case related to the disappearance of Thomas Alfred MARKS in 1965. The records relating to this case are now held by The National Archives at Kew under the references MEPO 2/10551 to MEPO 2/10558. The tape recording is under the last reference, MEPO 2/10558. This particular record is available but some parts of the record are closed as it remains an unsolved case. Enquiries regarding access to this record should be directed to The National Archives, whose catalogues can be accessed online at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk.

Yours sincerely Andrew Brown, Assistant Departmental Record Officer


DERBYSHIRE CONSTABULARY

14th March 2006 I can confirm that Derbyshire Constabulary holds NO information in respect of psychics which is relevant to your request.

Stuart Barlow, Freedom of Information Manager


WEST MIDLANDS POLICE

14th March 2006 Extract from a recent letter from David Mirfield, Head of West Midlands Police Major Investigations Unit (MIU):

As head of the West Midlands Police Major Investigation Unit (MIU) we are the team commissioned to tackle the majority of murder investigations within our force area. We use a variety of specialists to assist the Department during investigations; some are within the team itself while others are experts employed on a consultancy basis.

The use of psychics is not a common practice and we do not have what you may call a regular contributor. I have consulted with all of my senior investigating officers (SIO's), and none can recall using such a person. I have personally received letters on an unsolicited basis from individuals claiming to have information; often these are of little if any value and will not be acted upon. They can often be misleading and inconsistent with the facts. The investigation of murder is, like all major crimes, merely a systematic approach using standard procedures in a methodical way. They are often complex processes using multiple and concurrent lines of enquiry but again like all crimes the police rely heavily on information it receives, most often from eyewitnesses, other witnesses, and technical and scientific support.

We also work very closely with the families of the deceased, his is a sensitive area and often information given by well meaning individuals can cause hurt and often disappointment to the family. I would never say never as far as the investigation of murder is concerned and of course all information received is treated in the same way and processed through the 'system'. I am not personally aware of any occasion where the use of a psychic has resulted in the detection of a murder.


GLOUCESTERSHIRE CONSTABULARY

Tue, 14 Mar 2006 12:51

My response is that we hold no records and therefore under S1 of the Freedom of Information Act, I have nothing to send you. I have made extensive enquiries of current and past Senior Investigating Officers and although we are aware that some enquiries have considered the use of psychics, there is no recorded evidence of their use here by the Gloucestershire Constabulary.

Richard W. Powell-Chandler, Chief Inspector


LOTHIAN AND BORDERS POLICE

Tue, 14 Mar 2006 16:12

I contacted a number of departments and individuals within the Force that it was suggested may have used psychics during investigations. To the best of the officers' knowledge within these departments, many who have been with the Force for over 25 years, psychics have never been employed by Lothian and Borders Police to assist with investigations.

This type of assistance has been offered to the Force, but has never been accepted. The reason for this being that the Procurator Fiscal, who technically directs any investigation, would have to agree to the use of this type of assistance. To use a psychic would also require the police imparting details (evidence) to an individual outside the Force, something that we would only consider in exceptional / extreme circumstances. Lothian and Borders Police obviously look at all aspects of science which can assist, and call upon the services of the former National Crime and Operations Faculty, now the National Centre of Policing Excellence, who hold details of experts in all areas.

Stephanie Laing, Force Information Unit, Lothian and Borders Police


CAMBRIDESHIRE CONSTABULARY

Wed, 15 Mar 2006 13:24

We would advise you that Cambridgeshire Constabulary holds no information relevant to your request.

Alison Hayward, Information Access Office, Cambridgeshire Constabulary


SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

15th March 2006

This Constabulary has not used the services of a psychic in relation to crime investigation


HAMPSHIRE CONSTABULARY

15 Mar 2006

I note you seek access to the following information: Point 1 Where and when psychics have been used by Hampshire Constabulary Point 2 The cost of psychics to Hampshire Constabulary Point 1 Your request for information has now been considered and I am not obliged to supply the information you have requested. Point 2 Hampshire Constabulary has no record of making any payment to psychics.

Rebecca Sheppard, Freedom of Information Officer


DYFED-POWYS POLICE

16 Mar 2006

I am informed that Dyfed Powys Police has never used psychics.

Debby Jones, Information Officer, Dyfed Powys Police Headquarters

(Added 2009): Police spend £20,000 following psychics' leads This instance seems to have been the action of individual officers rather than being official policy of Dyfed Powys Police.


HUMBERSIDE POLICE

16 Mar 2006

Humberside Police has no policy in place in relation to the use of 'Psychics' and the Detective Chief Superintendent, who is head of CID, is not aware of any occasion when Humberside Police has used a psychic.

Sarah Whitfield, Information Compliance Assistant


BEDFORDSHIRE POLICE

16th March 2006

Following your request, searches were conducted at Bedfordshire Police. These searches failed to locate any records relating to your request based on the information you provided. Accordingly I have determined that the information to which you seek access is not held by Bedfordshire Police.

Lisa Oliver, Freedom of Information and Policy Officer


DORSET POLICE

16 Mar 2006 17:17

The Director of Investigations informed me that Dorset Police do not keep a record of the use of psychics. Psychics often write to the police about cases that are publicised. ACPO national policy is not to use them. The Director of Investigations confirmed that he has never used them. I am therefore satisfied that Dorset Police hold no information in relation to your request for information.

Melissa Ashdown, Freedom of Information Officer


GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE

13 Mar 2006

I can report that, with regards to your enquiries, a command decision has been taken not to use the services of 'Psychics' although GMP will always take appropriate action in respect of any information supplied which may lead to the detection of any criminal offence.

Laura Davies, Information Management Team


CLEVELAND POLICE

20 Mar 2006

I have made enquiries within Cleveland Police and have established that we have not used psychics in our investigations therefore I am unable to furnish you with any information as we do not hold any.

Judith Ord WPC 1061, FOI Decision Maker, Public Information Unit


HERTFORDSHIRE CONSTABULARY

20 Mar 2006

Extensive enquiries have been made in relation to your request and Hertfordshire Constabulary can confirm that it holds no information relating to the use of psychics.

Kieran Thorpe, Information Compliance Office


CUMBRIA CONSTABULARY

20 March 2006

I have been unable to trace any record of the Constabulary having used a psychic to assist with an investigation.

David Cherry, Data Protection & Freedom of Information Officer, Professional Standards Department


MERSEYSIDE POLICE

20 Mar 2006

Merseyside Police has not deployed psychics to assist in solving crimes. However, psychics have contacted Merseyside Police in relation to two investigations. The unsolicited information they provided was of no evidential value.

Anna Hodgkinson


NORTHERN CONSTABULARY

29 Mar 2006

Northern Constabulary does not use psychics.

Duncan Pockett, Freedom of Information Officer