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Local policing is in crisis but ministers are supposedly unaware

It is blindingly obvious to most people that Government cuts to police budgets have led to rising crime levels, writes Cllr David Ellesmere.

But according to a report by the National Audit Office, ministers are “unaware” of the impact of their cuts.

Perhaps they could have a look at “Police and Crime Plan Performance Progress Report” published by Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner last week.

This paints an alarming picture of crime trends in Suffolk.

Virtually across the board, crime rose last year. Violence against the person was up by 11.8%, drug offences by 21.6%, serious sexual offences by 23% and robbery by an astonishing 47.8%.

But despite the big increase in crimes committed the number of cases solved has actually fallen. Only one in five crimes of violence against the person or robbery are solved. For burglary it is around one in ten. For serious sexual offences it is barely one in sixteen.

The report also details how Suffolk police officer and PCSO strength has fallen by 323 over the last four years, even before the recent cuts to PCSOs.

It shouldn’t take a genius to work out what is going on but perhaps Government ministers need it spelling out.

In 2010 the Government under the then Home Secretary Theresa May, took an axe to police budgets.

This led to fewer police, and detection rates started to fall but it took a while for criminals to catch on, so crime rates did not rise immediately.

Because crime rates didn’t rise immediately, Theresa May agreed to further cuts from police budgets.

However, criminals were now realising they could get away with more without being caught and crime started to rise.

The Government belatedly realised it needed to do something and allowed Police and Crime Commissioners to increase council tax by £12 a year. They’ll probably do something similar next year.

But the council tax increases won’t even cover the cuts the Government is imposing.

I was glad to see Sandy Martin putting pressure on the Government over police funding in Parliament last week.

Because, unless Theresa May changes course we will be paying more council tax, for fewer police officers and crime will continue to rise.

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