This week the House of Commons debated the annual police grant. The background to policing and crime has changed significantly in recent years and not for the better. Northumbria Police have lost £136 million since 2010 with a reduction of 942 officers. That’s 23% fewer officers over the same period that official figures show a 25% increase in overall recorded crime.
As the Office for National Statistics says, crime is not a common experience for most people though the statistics reflect just recorded crime, and we know not all crimes are reported or recorded. But the most recent figures go far beyond changes in recording. Burglary is up, vehicle related crime is up, shoplifting is up and, mainly in London and the Metropolitan areas, knife crime and gun crime are up. There have been falls in some IT based crime, reminiscent of the way better security technology reduced car theft, but that fails to mask the overall increase.
This year’s police grant fails to rise to the challenge. Police forces could see an extra £270 million – but it’s not new money and will only happen if the precept – a local tax – goes up. The increases in funding for new technology and counter terrorism are neither enough nor are they likely to reach our region. Police forces cannot drain their reserves further and still be prepared for emergencies. Our police forces need proper funding, the crime figures show we cannot wait.