POLICE officers are good at hitting people in the mouth with truncheons but should leave catching criminals to the kids from Scooby Doo, a top policeman said last night.
Sir Ronnie Flanagan said he had examined a series of cases in which ghosts had scared people away from old funfairs so their owners were forced to sell out to unscrupulous property speculators.
Each time the investigating officers had failed to work out that the ghost was the local developer using a sheet and a torch, until it was explained to them at the end by Fred and occasionally Thelma.
Sir Ronnie said: "These officers seemed to think it was either a real ghost or the angry, weird old man who ran the fair. But why would he want to scare his customers away? It was his business."
He added: "Recently Hetty Wainthrop was asked to investigate the disappearance of a deaf-mute called Malcolm. It transpired he was on the run after witnessing a police officer murder an ex-lover.
"Not only did she find Malcolm, but she did so after a superintendent had assigned the murderer to work with her on the case. There is only one word for that: appalling negligence."
Sir Ronnie said his review of police working practices showed that amateur sleuths such as Jonathan Creek, Jessica Fletcher out of Murder She Wrote and that new one with Stephen Fry, had a much higher clear-up rate than trained detectives.
He is recommending the police hand over a range of duties to civilians allowing officers to concentrate on sleeping with the local brasses for free, shaking down drug dealers and shooting electricians in the face.