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Crime is falling? Not anymore, thanks to the Conservatives’ cuts

The latest figures show the extent to which Theresa May has failed on crime. 

By Diane Abbott

The Tories have cut police numbers by well over 20,000 since 2010. They have also broken their pledge, made by George Osborne and repeated by Theresa May to protect police funding. 

Yet they are in denial about the effects of their cuts, with Theresa May recently telling the House of Commons that “crime is at a record low”. This is untrue. Worse, analysis of Home Office data conducted for my office shows that total rates and numbers for charges or summonses have fallen. Police effectiveness is falling sharply.

There is more recorded crime, contrary to the Prime Minister’s assertions. Some of this is due to better reporting, and some is due to the soaring levels of relatively new internet-related crime. So the fall in the number of charges or summonses for offences means that overall the charge rate for offences has fallen sharply. This falling rate of summonses and convictions includes serious offences, such as violence against the person, sexual crime and others.

Of course, we all want to see greater genuine efficiency in our public services. But efficiency is rarely achieved by cuts. Often they have the opposite effect. Since 2010 roughly one in seven police officers have been axed. A decline in police effectiveness and efficiency has followed. It was entirely predictable, and was predicted by Labour.

There is more on the way, as over £300 million has been cut from the police grant in both the last financial year and in the current one. In real terms (after inflation) the funding cut is set to be just under ten per cent. This is equivalent to more than 13,000 police officers.

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Inevitably this has led to a reduction in police effectiveness. But the scale of the decline is startling. But the analysis conducted by my office shows that between March 2014 and September 2016 crimes reported to the police and recorded by them rose from 3.5 million to well over 4 million. But the number of charges or summonses arising has actually declined from 604,000 to 536,000 over the same period.

As a result, the rate of charges or summonses has fallen dramatically. Some of the worst changes have been recorded in some of the most serious offences. Recorded violence against the person and sexual offences have risen by 70 per cent or more in both cases. But the number of charges or summonses has barely changed. Almost one in four offences of violence against the person previously recorded by the police resulted in a charge or summonses. Now it is less than one in six.  The declining rate of charges for sexual offences is even worse.

In many other categories, such as burglary, theft, criminal damage and the numbers of charges or summonses has fallen. Many of these are serious offences.

This is an abject failure of Tory policy, proof that austerity not only makes you poorer but also makes all of us less safe. The Government cut the police numbers and broke their promises on protecting police funding. Further cuts are on the way. All of this has harmed police effectiveness, with a greater number of offences not leading to charges.

Labour will not cut frontline policing. We know that the greatest victims of crime are ordinary people, the poor and most vulnerable. Labour will stand up for them and for all the potential victims of crime.