Questions on crime

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I HAVE just received through my door a copy of the Policing in Northumberland 2010/2011 pamphlet and, I have to say, that it makes for interesting reading.

As in previous years the claim is made that reductions in crime, whether violent crime, burglary, vehicle crime, criminal damage or anti-social are all due to the improved performance of the police. I question, however, whether that is the case.

What evidence is there, for example, that the reduction in vehicle crime on our Command Area from 1,590 cases in 2008/2009 to 975 in 2010/2011 is due in any way to police performance as opposed to, say, improved vehicle security, CCTV, improved security lighting at houses or owners not reporting the crime?

The pamphlet also mentions various ‘crackdowns’ on anti-social behaviour or rural crime yet it could be argued that these initiatives only become necessary due to lack of policing in the first place.

It also begs the question as to what happens after the ‘crackdown’. Do crime levels remain low or is there a resurgence of the same problem in the same area?

A recent analysis of crime by the think-tank Civitas found that the more crime the police detect the more they prevent.

A one percentage point rise in detection rates led to 22,500 fewer thefts and 2,300 fewer violent offences.

However, according to the performance figures in the pamphlet for Northern Area Command, which covers Alnwick detection rates fell from 41.5 per cent to 40.6 per cent while recorded crime in all areas also fell.

This is not only at odds with the Civitas report but adds weight to the argument that the reductions in crime in Northumberland are not due to improved police performance alone as the pamphlet purports to claim.

About two years ago, I wrote to the Police Authority which is, I believe, responsible for producing the pamphlet, raising these same issues and asking for evidence that reduced crime was due to improved performance.

I am still waiting for a reply.

It will be interesting to see whether this letter provokes any response.

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