Crime – at a total of 10.7 million offences estimated for the year to September 2018 – is continuing to rise, it’s claimed after the latest Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). Two in ten adults experienced any of the crimes asked about in the survey in the previous 12 months.
The Labour West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner , David Jamieson, said the statistics show crime is continuing to rise in the West Midlands and the entirety of England and Wales. He said it further emphasises the need for more police resources, and called on the government to take note of the statistics.
“I continue to have concerns about the increase in violent crime which has risen significantly in the West Midlands. That is why I am investing £2 million to tackle the root causes of violent crime. I am doing all I can to drive efficiencies. I am cutting down on bureaucracy and giving officers the technology to do their job on the move, so they don’t have to come back to a police building unnecessarily. These efficiencies are helping officers spend more time tackling crime and keeping people safe.
“However West Midlands Police has faced £175m in central government cuts since 2010. Despite being recognised by independent inspectors as a highly efficient force, we have lost over 2,000 officers since 2010, meaning we are having to do more with less.
“These figures highlight the government’s short-sighted approach by continuing to apply real-terms cuts to police forces’ funding at a time when the pressures on policing are increasing. This is hampering proactive policing that prevents crime.”
For Labour nationally, Diane Abbott, Shadow Home Secretary, said the crime data underlined the failures of Government policy across the piece. “Serious violent crime continues to rise yet the Government remains in denial about the effects of its own policies. The Tories’ have cut police officer numbers. They have also exacerbated all the causes of crime, including inequality, poverty, poor mental health care as well the crisis in our schools, especially school exclusions.”
Helen Ross from the Office for National Statistics Centre (ONS ) for Crime and Justice, said: “In recent decades we’ve seen the overall level of crime falling, but in the last year, it remained level. There are variations within this overall figure, depending on the type of crime. Burglary, shoplifting and computer misuse are decreasing but others, such as vehicle offences and robbery are rising. We have also seen increases in some types of “lower-volume, high-harm” violence including offences involving knives or sharp instruments.”
The ONS urged caution over some of its findings for the year ending September 2018, compared with previous survey year, such as a 33pc decrease in computer misuse offences (due to ‘limited data points’).
Offences involving a knife or a sharp instrument tend to be concentrated in London and other cities. Vehicle offences recorded by the police have been increasing since the year ending March 2015. The police also recorded a rise in robbery.
At the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Lincolnshire Chief Constable Bill Skelly, NPCC lead for Crime Recording and Statistics, said: “The statistics show an increase in violent crime and those being in possession of an offensive weapon. These are things police forces are committed to tackling using many tactics like the Operation Sceptre national day of action on knife crime and our work with local NHS Trusts and A&E units which are showing success. We will continue to work with the Home Office and other partners to deal with growing violent crime because this is not something that can be solved by policing alone.
“Rising crime, increased terrorist activity and fewer police officers have put serious strain on the policing we offer to the public. We are determining the additional capabilities and investment we need to drive down violence and catch more criminals – and we will make the case at the next government spending review. Equally important is driving up productivity and cutting any remaining inefficiencies.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “The causes of violent crime are extremely complex and involve deep-seated problems like poverty, inequality, social alienation and a lack of opportunities for young people. This been made much worse by huge Government cuts to the police and preventative services.
“I am doing everything within my power to tackle crime and the causes of crime. These proposals will allow the Met to crack down on violence in communities, building on the Violent Crime Taskforce which has made nearly 2,500 arrests and removed more than 1,000 dangerous weapons from London’s streets. This is alongside new investment in the Violence Reduction Unit that will help tackle the root causes of violent crime.
“Today’s crime figures also show we need to do even more to tackle burglary and that’s why we are using my funding to increase the roll out of more anti-burglary kits across London.
For the trade body the Association of Convenience Stores, ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The official statistics may show a slight decrease in the overall number of shop thefts being recorded by the police, but we know in our sector shop theft remains a huge problem for retailers. We are concerned that a fall in the number of recorded incidents could be as a result of retailers not reporting crimes in frustration at the lack of response from police, not necessarily as a result of the number of offences falling.
“We urge retailers to report all incidents of shop theft when they occur. Shop theft is a crime, and must be taken seriously by forces because theft often leads to abuse and aggressive behaviour against retailers and their staff who are just doing their job and enforcing the law.”
At the shop workers’ union Usdaw, Paddy Lillis, General Secretary says: “The idea that shoplifting is a victimless crime is wrong. Theft from shops is often a trigger for violence, threats and abuse against shop workers. The rising trend in shoplifting is extremely worrying for our members, even though figures from last year suggest the trend may be levelling off. The evidence from retailers, police and our own survey of shop workers all show a disturbing increase in retail crime. This cannot be allowed to continue, action must be taken.
“We have long been concerned that theft from shops is not taken seriously and sometimes regarded as a victimless crime with only large companies affected, but the reality for shop workers is very different. Police resources are so stretched we are now have some chief constables reporting that their officers can no longer attend theft from shops incidents and they are asking shop workers to detain shoplifters.”
On cyber (‘computer misuse’ in the CSEW) Fraser Kyne, EMEA CTO at anti-malware product firm Bromium pointed out that Action Fraud – which collects data from businesses – saw a 12pc overall rise in reported cases, driven by an increase in email and social accounts being compromised. “The results support what we’ve seen over the last couple of years, as hackers have become much more resourceful, changing their tactics to get the best results. Last year there was a 145pc rise in malware, but this year that dropped by 25pc as hackers switched tactics to hijack email and social media accounts. The risk here for organisations is that hackers are still exploiting the weakest link in security, people. Business email compromise can be particularly effective for spying on organisations or impersonating users to gain funds, hijack further accounts or attempt to gain access to critical IP.
“It is also worth noting that Action Fraud’s stats only reflect reported crime. These detected events prove that hackers are still bypassing defences; but we must also assume that malware is breaking through and remaining undetected. This is why we need tools that can protect us from the things that we can’t see or detect, particularly as hackers are constantly changing tactics. Organisations in the UK need to stay vigilant, adopting layered defences that utilise application isolation to take the responsibility of security away from users, keep critical IP protected and ensuring they can stay one step ahead of resourceful cybercriminals.”