Stitch stats

New figures appear to show that crime and disorder in England and Wales have surged as police officer numbers have decreased. Could these two trends be linked?

Jul 26, 2017

New figures appear to show that crime and disorder in England and Wales have surged as police officer numbers have decreased. Could these two trends be linked? A Home Office report has disclosed that the 123,142 officers employed at the end of March this year was the lowest amount since 1985. The statistics on serving officers appear to have been accepted without demure. The crime figures are, however, hotly contested. The overall ONS accounts show that the almost five million crimes recorded up until March this year are a ten per cent annual rise on the previous year, the biggest year-on-year increase in the last decade. However, the Crime Survey of England and Wales, which is based on people`s experiences of crime, showed an overall drop of seven per cent. The ONS points out that the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) “doesn’t cover all crime and it doesn’t cover all victims”. The Government, unsurprisingly considers the CSEW the “more reliable” measure. Having two large organisations that cannot agree on what they have or have not found out, nor what it means, is both expensive and futile. It is an unsatisfactory combination, and one that gives governments opportunities to fudge potentially damning statistics. The figures were released on the last day of Parliament, along with many other proposals and reports from the various departments before politicians left London on their breaks. We did not trouble Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott for her views on the figures, we thought the Labour Party’s abacus would be fully utilised working out the money left over from its pot of gold made available by the capital gains leprechaun, after it had realised cancelling things like student debt would be just a little bit more than anticipated. Either that or she would be on a beach somewhere and toes and fingers would be occupied with estimates on bar bills. In the meantime, Policing Minister Nick Hurd has promised that the Government will “engage very closely with the police, force by force, to really drill down on the pressures they are under”. Well done Nick, although this is called ‘shutting the gate after the horse has bolted’. If they had done it before making the cuts they may have made better ones, or fewer ones, or none at all. Diane for her part did issue a statement calling on the Government to increase police officer numbers and “address what people are concerned about”. As is only to be expected, no figures were given and there was no mention as to what it is people are concerned about. These are, nevertheless, noble suggestions, for which the service should be grateful. Meanwhile, retired Metropolitan Police Service detectives have been asked to consider returning to work, as the force is experiencing “unprecedented demands” on its investigative capability. Why, having chosen to leave for exactly this reason, would they want to come back and try to cope again in a worsening environment? We are about to find out, and no doubt some brave souls will brace themselves, turn on the same computers running Windows XP and give it another go. This is surely the application of an Elastoplast, rather than the corrective surgery required… Yours, Stitch stitchley@policeprofessional.com @SOStitchley

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