Friday, 18 July 2008

Police and thieves

So today's crime survey shows that crime fell by 10 per cent in England and Wales (the equivalent of 1 million crimes) last year. That's a 48% drop in crime since it peaked in 1995, which gives us the longest recorded period of falling crime in living memory. Good news you might think. And how does the media report it? Well the Guardian says "Crime rates expected to soar as economic difficulties deepen" and the Times worries that "Economic gloom could reverse the downward trend in recorded crime". The Times then goes on to say that "despite falls in overall crime, almost two thirds of people thought that it was rising". Well I wonder why that is? Couldn't have anything to do with the way it's reported, could it?


Jay said...

"Well I wonder why that is? Couldn't have anything to do with the way it's reported, could it?"

Yes, but not in the way that you intended your remark to mean:

a) the number of crimes has not fallen but the number of crimes reported has;

b) the figures mask an increase in serious crime by including figures for 'minor' crimes, the incidence of which has fallen

I was burgled a few years ago and reported the crime although I didn't believe for one moment that the criminals would be apprehended (they weren't). If I were to be burgled again, I wouldn't bother dragging the police away from their paperwork. The probability of it happening nowadays has fallen anyway, not because of effective policy by Government or better policing, but because there's no money in stolen goods anymore! The criminals have graduated to personal fraud. I'm not even sure if personal fraud is police territory.

It really doesn't matter if actual crime has fallen if people continue to be afraid of it. Try telling the elderly pensioner who has to walk past the crowd of youths on her way home from bingo that she's safe on the streets. She believes that they hold the law in contempt and that if she were to try and defend herself she'd end up being prosecuted. She knows that there aren't any bobbies on the beat who regularly patrol a patch and who know who the baddies are. She doesn't believe that the youths won't attack her today when they would have done a year ago.

Mrs Blogs said...

this letter appeared in the local paper of the hometown of a friend of mine

"Praise for our prompt police -
The other evening I went into the back garden and noticed that someone had attempted to force open our kitchen window in two places, but fortunately had failed.
Because they had been unsuccessful, I didn't want to waste police time and so I telephoned them just to get the number of our local community beat officer.
However, within an hour of the officer on the phone hearing about what had happened, we had a gentleman round with camera and fingerprint powder.
Within two hours a policeman came to talk to us, take notes and basically put our minds at ease.
The following morning we had a visit from CID who again phoned us in the afternoon with information as to who they thought had done it and were acting upon it.
The next day we had a phone call from Victim Support to make sure we were all OK.
This was a first-class service and I wanted to write to put the police force in a positive light for a change.
My experience is one of a very responsive and professional police force.
Name and address supplied"

Every area now has a Neighbourhood Policing Team which brings together a team of officers and Police Community Support Officers who work together with local people to identify local priorities, listening to them and ensuring their concerns are met through local agreements.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan's Policing Review highly praised the Neighbourhood Policing initiative.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Mrs Blogs, your correspondent was incredibly lucky. This may seem remarkably coincidental but I can produce evidence for my story, including the paid-out insurance claim from Tesco Insurance, plus the crime number and can even get the CAD details if you like.

Someone tried to break into my house on January 18th, also via the kitchen window (only in one place though). We had just installed new windows in November so they didn't have much luck, but they damaged the window so much that it needed replacing.

We phoned the Police at 7pm on the Friday night, they said they would have someone round within the hour. They finally called back about 11pm and told us it would be the next morning.

They turned up Saturday at 12:30pm. They had also said that we would receive a phone call before they turned up, but that didn't materialise.

I had agreed many weeks before to help move someone up to Preston on that Saturday so I was committed to not being there, my partner was extremely concerned in case this person came back and so didn't travel with me as was planned.

Someone was due to come and take finger-prints but he didn't arrive till 2:30pm by which time all the prints were gone as it had been raining the night before.

It gets worse, believe me. The Police that DID turn up asked around a few neighbours to see if they had noticed anything. Within 30 minutes of that, two PCSOs turned up to investigate what they described as "two male officers pretending to be policemen". They knocked on our door and my partner told them that they were REAL police officers. They asked how she knew and the reply was "because they came in a police car, parked it outside my house and would you like to see the damaged window that they were investigating?"

No talking between Police and PCSOs then? If so, what is the point in PCSOs? Oh hold on ... Jackie Smith won't even pay proper Policemen fairly so maybe it's a cost saver. ;-)

So, it took 30 minutes for two PCSOs to turn up after a nonsense allegation that didn't have any substance, but 17 hours for someone to actually investigate a real crime. The PCSOs turned up an hour and a half BEFORE the finger-print guy.

Needless to say, no-one has been caught and we were just given the usual crime number. Someone did ring up to ask about our experience, so at least we kept some copper in paperwork for a bit.

And Kerry, the real shocker for you is that my partner had given up smoking at New Year and was going well ... until that stress pushed her back into the land of the non-human in your eyes.

Mrs Blogs ... as I said, you were very lucky.

Kerry - PLEASE challenge me to produce evidence as I am gagging to do so seeing as you believe figures on a piece of paper instead of what is actually happening in the real world.

Dick Puddlecote said...

On the subject of the text of your blog post Kerry:

Isn't it irritating when what you know to be true is twisted and deformed by those that have a pre-conceived agenda?

What is so very annoying about it, would you not agree, is that people will sheepishly agree with what they read even though it bears no real semblance of truth.

Of course, I could just dismiss you and call your protestations as just believing in a flat Earth or that pigs do actually fly. You see, I read it somewhere that crime is actually really bad and it's only a tiny minority of freaks (in the Labour PLP) that believe different. I know this as I read it in the papers and I listened to a couple of guys I know from my town and they say your opinions are rubbish.

I wish you'd stop pushing these conspiracy theories Kerry, it's a right Idiot Wind. ;-)

Northern Lights said...

'the number of crimes has not fallen'

Yes it has; the BCS records crimes not reported to the police, and it asks members of the public about crime and their perceptions of it. It shows that the risk of being a victim of crime is at its lowest level since 1981 - and according to the BCS, violent crime is down 12%.

But it's no wonder 65% of people think crime has increased; 'Crime is Down' just does not sell newspapers.

Glenn Vowles said...

I accept that crime has fallen and that the media warps public perceptions but I'm not that happy with the way we measure it. For example: it doesn't talk to under-16s; it misses crimes against businesses and institutions, notably fraud; it doesn't contain information on murders...Would it not be better with such gaps plugged?

I think I'm right in saying that Ian Duncan-Smith has written that the British Crime Survey limits people to 5 crimes each - is this true??

DaveA said...

Maybe crime is or is not going down numerically. What the statistics do not show is the underlying menace and fear that many feel these days. There was hat case in Croydon where a gang of teenage girls set about two policemen for having the temerity to be asked to pick up some litter. Also two men stepped in on behalf of the kids and assulted the police too. What has this country become when no one has any respect. Either in principle or practice. At least the police have the comfort of a baton, a radio and possibly some backup, what are we meant to do?

"A policeman who was attacked by a 30-strong mob after asking a girl to pick up a piece of litter has described their behaviour as "worse than animals".

Glenn Vowles said...

davea - your key point is well made and I agree. Its hard to measure respect in figures of course but I'm sure that many people experience a strong lack of respect, a strong anti-social tendency, a could not care less attitude...on a daily basis. I'm concerned that the social/community glue that holds us together has weakened. This is probably part of the reason why many feel menace and fear. Any thoughts on this Kerry? Govt action is...?

Kerry said...

I think you can over-state the 'broken society' case. Most people behave decently, look out for one another, etc - but I, like you, sometimes come across people who make me despair. I mentioned a while ago on here people opening their car doors and dumping bags of rubbish in the middle of the road; OK, it's petty in itself, but it's indicative of a total lack of respect for their city and the environment. And as for some of the people who see on daytime TV shows.... There have always been people who fall into that category, but there is a real worry that it's becoming inter-generational - i.e. being passed on from parents to children who then have kids when they're virtually still children themselves.

That's why a a lot of what the Government is doing is focused on parenting - e.g. the Family Intervention Project (the so-called 'Supernanny' scheme for 'problem families' being piloted in South Bristol); Sure Start and Children's Centres (both focused on improving parenting skills, giving the parents of young children support, and addressing the social problems at home which can lead to children under-achieving at school and/ or getting into trouble); the Social Exclusion Unit's report and recommendations on helping 'Families at Risk' (i.e. those with a multitude of problems).

There's also the 'Respect' agenda, anti-social behaviour legislation and neighbourhood policing (all
designed to deal with low level nuisance which can drag a community down and lead to an escalation of problems - and I'm seeing new PCSOs out on the beat every time I'm out and about in my constituency)

Today's Welfare Reform green paper is partly about emphasising that people do have responsibilities, such as the responsibility to provide for themselves and their family if they are able to do so - ending the long-term dependency culture. I could go on...

I have to think some parts of Bristol - including some of the poorest parts - have an excellent community spirit, and that's partly because regeneration funding has gone in, and community projects have been supported. It's also partly down to the sort of people who choose to live there. We need to replicate that in other areas, and I think we start by finding ways to bring people together. The Communities in Control white paper, launched a week or two ago, is partly about that.

I also think housing design is a factor - new housing developments can either isolate people in their own mini-fortresses or create a community (e.g the eco-village being built at Hanham).