The potential link between police officer cuts and a surge in violent crime is not analysed in the Government’s new serious violence prevention strategy, despite a leaked Home Office document suggesting cuts “likely contributed” as an “underlying driver”.
The document contains an otherwise detailed examination of the multiple complex causes of violent crime and sets out a series of measures the Government proposed to take.
The strategy, launched by Home Secretary Amber Rudd today, identifies changes in the crack cocaine market as a key driver of the crime wave, but makes no reference to the more than 20,000 cuts to police officers in England and Wales since 2010.
Despite officials claiming academic research shows there is no clear link between officer numbers and rising crime, no such research findings are included in the final document.
An internal Home Office document leaked to The Guardian newspaper, however, did acknowledge that an increase in recorded sexual offences had put pressure on police resources.
In one part the document said those pressures were “unlikely to be the factor that triggered the shift in serious violence, but may be an underlying driver”.
In another it said police manpower cuts were “not the main driver” of the surge in violence, but “has likely contributed”.
Responding to questions about the report, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “I haven’t seen it, because whoever has got this – the news channel – hasn’t sent it over to us.
“I understand that it’s something to do with the Home Office but it’s absolutely correct I haven’t seen the leaked element of what it’s around.”
She added: “I’m not interested in making policy evidence on anecdotes, I’m interested in making them on evidence.”
In her written introduction to the strategy, Ms Rudd said the plan represents “a new balance between prevention and effective law enforcement” and its aim was to “underline the importance of steering young people away from crime in the first place, whilst ensuring that the police have the tools and support they need to tackle violent crime”.
While the report notes that overall crime has fallen rapidly over the last 20 years, including violent crime, there have been increases since 2014.
The report suggests that some of that increase was down to improvements in the way police record crime, but “some of the increases are thought to be genuine, including a rise in offences involving knives and firearms”.
The report also hints at the possibility that knife crime statistics could be under-reported, due to the fact it does not exist as an official category and therefore homicides and robberies involving a knife have to be manually recorded separately.
The report concludes “in practice, this doesn’t always happen perfectly”.
The Serious Violence strategy focuses on four key areas:
:: Tackling so-called county lines drug markets, where organised crime gangs from metropolitan areas sell drugs in other areas of the UK
:: A strategy to increase early intervention and prevention
:: Greater support for local communities and partnerships and ensuring an effective response in law enforcement
:: The criminal justice system, including the introduction of a new Offensive Weapons Bill.
As well as targeting around £40m of Home Office money to tackle the issue in a multi-lateral response, the strategy sets out the formation of new groups to oversee the delivery of the plan.
A new inter-ministerial group will be established, with ministers from Departments across Whitehall meeting quarterly to discuss progress.
A new serious violence task force will also be established, bringing together national and local police bodies as well as representatives from health, education and industry sectors.
The Government will also host an international symposium focused on violent crime in autumn this year after analysis suggested the impact of changes in the global drugs trade could explain why other countries, such as the US, Sweden and Canada have also seen increases in homicides since 2014.
From – SkyNews