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Crime up, officer numbers down - 'A wake-up call to Government'

Figures released yesterday which show a record annual increase in recorded crime and the lowest number of police officers since the mid '80s should serve as a wake-up call to the Government, according to Tiff Lynch, chairman of Leicestershire Police Federation.

An Office of National Statistics (ONS) report showed a 10 per cent increase in recorded crime for the year to the end of March 2017 while the Government's workforce statistics revealed officer numbers had fallen by 924 to 123,142, the lowest total since 1985.

"The two reports on their own are quite alarming but when you read them together it's quite clear that there is a link between crime levels and officer numbers; something the Police Federation has been saying for some time now," says Tiff.

"The Government seems insistent that we can do more with less but I think these figures demonstrate the fact that with fewer officers to go around we are finding it harder and harder to fight crime, keep our communities safe and protect the vulnerable.

"Within those figures, we can see that violent crime was up 18 per cent, robbery by 16 per cent and sexual offences by 14 per cent. We can get tied up in the statistics but let's not forget for every one of these crimes there is a victim and a victim's family and friends who will all be affected.

"The Government now needs to listen to the Federation, take note of these two sets of figures and start to re-invest in policing so that we can halt this rise in crime and prevent more and more people become victims of these offences."

Officer numbers fell from 124,066 at the end of March 2016 to 123,142 at the end of March 2017, a decrease of 0.7 per cent and the lowest figure since 1985.

In the same period, Leicestershire saw its numbers reduce by 57 officers (3.1 per cent) to a total of 1,802. Neighbouring Nottinghamshire saw the biggest percentage decrease (6.9 per cent) in the country, losing 136 officers.

Other headline figures from the two reports were as follows:

Recorded crime year ending 31 March 2017

  • Nearly 5 million offences
  • 18 per cent increase in violence against the person (up 175,060 offences)
  • 7 per cent increase in theft (up 118,774 offences)
  • 20 per cent increase in knife crime (up 34, 703 offences) - the highest number in seven years
  • 23 per cent increase in gun crime (up 6,375 offences)
  • Rises in 'traditional' crimes such as burglary (3 per cent), robbery (16 per cent) and criminal damage and arson (5 per cent)
  • 14 per cent increase in sexual offences crimes (up 14,982 offences) including a 15 per cent increase in rape
  • 20 per cent increase in possession of weapons
  • 39 per cent increase in public order offences (up 78,697 offences)
  • 26 per cent increase in murders (when you take out 96 Hillsborough victims it is up nine per cent)
  • Fraud (3.4m) and computer misuse (1.8m) incidents also accounted for a further 5.2 million incidents - these are experimental statistics.

Police workforce statistics year ending 31 March 2017

  • Total officers down by 924 (124,066 to 123,142, -0.7 per cent)
  • Biggest proportion of these are front-line officers (106,411 to 105,571, -1 per cent, 840)
  • Neighbourhood police officers fell by 1.7 per cent to 56,430
  • Total workforce including police staff and PCSOs fell from 200,921 to 198,684 (-1 per cent, 2,237)
  • Number of officers has fallen every year for the past eight years.

National Federation chairman Steve White has questioned what more of a wake-up call the Government needs.

He said: "Government needs 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."