Cuts in police budget blamed for declining detection rate
New figures showing that over four fifths of crimes in the borough of Wandsworth go unsolved have been described as 'shocking and unacceptable' by a Labour member of the London Assembly. Londonwide Labour Assembly Member Fiona Twycross claims that Boris Johnson has reneged on his commitment to get more 'bobbies on the beat' and a decline in detection rates has resulted.
Data released by the Metropolitan Police shows that in the year 2012/13 19% of the 25,377 crimes in the borough were solved compared to a UK average in the same period of 27%
The proportion of crimes being solved has fallen from 21% in 2008/9 when the current Mayor, Boris Johnson came to power.
The police have responded by pointing out that crime has fallen by 7.1% in the last 12 months compared to the preceding 12 months. In real terms, that means over 1800 fewer crimes.
Fiona Twycross claims that the fall in solved crime comes at a time when fewer crimes are being reported to the police and when Wandsworth has lost 54 police officers and 69 PCSOs since May 2010 a reduction of 58% in the latter.
She said, “It is shocking that overall reported crime is down yet the number of unsolved crimes in Wandsworth is up to 81 per cent. Boris talks big about reported crime going down, but so far he has ignored that the number of crimes actually solved on his watch has plummeted. Compared to the average in England and Wales, London is trailing on the number of crimes solved where we should be setting the gold standard."
She added, “If you cut the police budget by as much as the Government has then there will be repercussions. Victim satisfaction in London is lower than elsewhere in the UK and this is not acceptable. ”
Chief Inspector Steve McSorley, in charge of Safer Neighbourhoods in Wandsworth, said: "Wandsworth is the safest borough in inner London. There are more officers than before out on the streets in your neighbourhoods, preventing and disrupting criminals. The borough has embraced the new Local Policing Model, which is about being a more efficient service. We are receiving new officers most months and have made a clear commitment to keep Neighbourhood Policing Teams at full strength. In addition we are seeing strong growth in our Special Constabulary contingent."
On just one day, Wednesday 23 October, Wandsworth police arrested 25 people for offences including burglary, armed robbery, drug dealing and handling stolen goods.
Chief Inspector Nick Aldworth, lead for Operational Policing on the borough said: "The borough has a robust policing plan in place to respond to the likely increase in calls for service over the coming weeks, and that includes an enhanced number of detectives on duty at the right time to preserve evidence and charge offenders where opportunities exist. The effort of officers on the borough does not relent as we move into the shorter days and traditional seasonal spike in anti-social behaviour."
Richard Tracey, Conservative London Assembly Member For Wandsworth, said: "The decline in solved crimes is an artificial one. The last Labour Government introduced a target (2004) to solve a certain number of crimes. Ostensibly, this led to an increase in the number of crimes solved. But what it did in reality was simply encourage police to hand out far more cautions, and less real justice was served. The former Government accepted this mistake and, in 2008 when Boris came to power, removed this target. However notably, the number of crimes solved now is higher than when this target was introduced – back in 2003/4 less than 12% of crimes were solved!
Furthermore, to continue to blame cuts for everything is even more absurd when the Mayor is increasing the number of police officers in Wandsworth by 79 by 2015."
October 26, 2013