Government policies ‘have failed the public’

27 March 2015

Official figures showing nearly one in five members of the public fear they are likely to become a victim of crime but report seeing fewer and fewer officers around show the government’s police policies have failed, the Police Federation has warned.

Steve White, federation chairman, said the Office for National Statistics figures released yesterday represent a ‘sad indictment’ of the coalition’s policies that have seen officer numbers plummet by 17,000 in the last five years and warned that ‘cuts have consequences’.

The survey found that the rating people give their local police has risen year-on-year while those who reported seeing officers or PCSOs on foot patrol has fallen – despite 19 per cent of adults saying it was either very or fairly likely that they’d become a victim of crime within the next 12 months.

Mr White added: ‘This survey underlines the sad fact that, although the public highly values the work that police officers do to keep them safe, they are seeing fewer and fewer of them around on the street. Allied to the fact that nearly one fifth of adults expect to be a victim of crime within the next 12 months, this represents a sad indictment of the government’s policing policies which have seen police officer and staff numbers slashed by 17,000 in the last five years.'

‘Quite clearly, cuts have consequences and the government cuts have severely damaged the service’s ability to keep people safe and lock up criminals. With more cuts on the horizon, I dread to think what service we might be able to provide. Politicians of all parties should sit up and take note.'

‘The fact remains that official statistics showing crime rates to have fallen give an entirely false picture – not only do the official stats not capture the full range of criminality but they only reflect a small proportion of things officers do. For example, counter-terrorism, looking for missing persons, preventing child sexual exploitation and monitoring sex offenders are just four areas of work that the crime stats don’t cover but they are of vital importance to the public we serve.’

The main points of the survey, ‘Crime Statistics, Focus on Public Perceptions of Crime and the Police, and the Personal Well-being of Victims, 2013 to 2014’, found here included:

• The proportion of adults who gave the local police a positive rating (said they did a good or excellent job) was 63% in 2013/14. This represents a small increase from 2012/13 (61%) and is similar to 2011/12 (62%). While not directly comparable, prior to this, the proportion of adults who gave the local police a positive rating increased from 47% in 2003/04 to 59% in 2010/11

• The proportion of adults who reported seeing police officers or police community support officers (PCSOs) on foot patrol, in their local area, about once a week or more (high police visibility) was 32% in 2013/14.  This continues the downward trend seen since 2010/11 when the reported level of high police visibility was at its peak (39%). Prior to 2010/11, the proportion of adults reporting high visibility rose from 26% in 2006/07

• There were 19% of adults who thought it was either “very” or “fairly likely” that they would be a victim of crime within the next 12 months

• In line with previous surveys, those who had been a victim of crime in the last year were more likely to: consider both local and national crime rates to have risen over the last few years; have a high level of worry about crime; and to think it likely they would suffer victimisation in the year ahead, than non-victims

• Those who were victims of crime in the previous 12 months reported significantly lower personal well-being than non-victims for measures relating to “life satisfaction”, “life worthwhile”, and “happiness yesterday”. There was no significant difference for “anxious yesterday”