Massive increase in violent crime – while police service is ‘on its knees’

20 July 2017

A single-crewed officer

A single-crewed officer

A beleaguered police service is struggling to keep pace as violent crime soars.

That’s the stark warning from the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) as the latest crime figures show massive increases in violent crime and gun and knife offences.

Recorded knife crime is up 20%, the highest number in seven years, alongside a 23% increase in gun crime and 18% rise in violent crime – and these figures do not include the recent terror attacks.

Adding to the woes is yet another drop in officer numbers as police workforce statistics show a fall of nearly 1,000 officers in the last 12 months (123,142 down from 124,066 the previous year).

Steve White, PFEW chair, said: “What more of a wake-up call does the government need? Officer numbers are dropping consistently every year yet our members are having to deal with not only more crimes, but the most unimaginable atrocities such as those in Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge.”

“Particularly worrying is the drop in frontline and neighbourhood officers when we all know that community policing is fundamental in tackling both traditional crimes like burglary (up by 3%) and the terror threat.”

The report highlighted forces are trying to meet demand with the lowest number of police officers since 1985.  Mr White added: “Government need to start to invest now in backing the police service so that it can carry out its primary responsibility, which is the safety and security of citizens. These figures demonstrate that this has not happened.”

The latest crime figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the number of police recorded crimes for the year ending March 2017 reached nearly 5 million over the past 12 months, an increase of 10%. This represents a staggering 458,021 separate offences more than the previous year - fraud (3.4m) and computer misuse (1.8m) also accounted for a further 5.2 million incidents.

The ONS figures also show:

  • 20% rise in possession of weapons
  • 18% increase in violent crimes against a person (up 175,060 offences)
  • 15% rise in rape
  • 14% increase in overall sex crimes
  • 16% rise in robberies
  • 9% increase in murders (excluding Hillsborough victims)
  • 7% rise in theft
  • 39% rise in public order offences