LONDON: One of the UK’s most senior police officers has warned that a two-decade decline in crime appearsto be ending amid rising violence and an unprecedented terrorthreat.ChiefConstable Sara Thornton, chair of the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), accused the Government of under-funding forcesstruggling with new challenges.
As well as dealing with the growing terror threat, recorded crime is up 13 per cent and police are receiving record levels of 999 calls and growing demand from mental health and public safety. “The police service isstretched and ourstaff are feeling it, and the public is beginning to notice it,” Ms Thornton told delegates at the APCC/NPCCPartnershipSummit.
“We have jointly raised this stretch with Home Office ministers and officials. It has become clear that the 2015 settlement of flat cash for forces is unsustainable. “Forces are being asked to absorb pay rises and inflation pressures, and this is leading to cuts in services. We are particularly concerned that these cuts are undermining crime prevention and proactive police work.” MsThorntonwarnedthatwhile the Crime Survey for England and Wales shows a reduction in crime from a peak in 1995, the offences recordedbypolicehaveincreasedby 13 per cent in the last year.
She said that while some of the rise can be accounted for by a requirement to record more lowerlevel crime like harassment, there are “worrying signs” of a national increase in violent crime including attacks using knives and guns. Figures released earlier this month also indicated an increase in reports of sexual offences, including against children, and a record number of terror-related arrests.
“Could this be the beginning ofthe end of the great crime decline?” Ms Thornton asked. “I do not think we can risk viewingthisriseincrimeas ablip.In thesamewaythatexpertshavecommented that there has been a shift, rather than a spike in the terrorist threat, I think we are seeing a shift, ratherthan a blip in crime.”