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With crime-solving at an all time low, who’s to blame?


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The proportion of crimes solved by the police has dropped to a catastrophic 7.8%, according to Home Office data.

This means 92.2% of all offences in the UK and Wales lead to nobody being charged or sentenced. With all these reported crimes quickly turning into cold cases after a half-hearted effort by the justice system, why are the police surprised that the country has so little faith in them?

With statistics like that, we are telling potential offenders that they are almost guaranteed to commit their crimes with no consequence: a message that will surely encourage them rather than deter them.

Image Credit: Slinkierbus268 via Wikipedia

Many people might applaud Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, for saying that crime-solving rates are “woefully low”, but what practical purpose does her commentary serve? There’s an important distinction between identifying a flaw and taking proactive steps to solve it.

They say that admitting there’s a problem is the first step to solving it, but this isn’t new, sudden, or in any way surprising. We have seen a steady decline in crime-solving rates over the years. In 2018, for example, the proportion of crimes solved by police was 9.1%. A 1.9% decline might not sound like a lot, it is actually very significant and harmful if we are talking about figures this small. If we carry on at this rate, police will be solving 0% of crimes in five years from now. 

It's shameful that the police force is solving so few crimes. It's meant to be performing a public service, and if it performs to such an appalling standard we, the general public, are the ones who suffer. This isn’t just someone who photocopies a bit slowly at the office. This is a job about safety and justice. 

Take cases such as the Rochdale trafficking ring or Gaia Pope’s disappearance, for example. These cases happened in different parts of the UK, but they completely and utterly reek of missed opportunity and failure. These trained officers had so many chances in both these cases, but instead chose to let the wool be pulled over their eyes. 

Is this incompetence, abuse of power, or apathy? It's not uncommon to hear stories about policemen choosing to stop-and-search people based on their ethnicity or the victim-blaming attitudes they employ towards those who have suffered sexual violence. We also need to consider the steady rise of knife crime – a well-known and heavily documented issue – and ask ourselves: if the police are aware of this issue, why is it just getting worse?

The government needs to face up to its responsibility and role in making the police force we see today, because how can we expect them to improve if we don’t give them the means to do so? 

I’ll admit there has been a slight increase in police officers in the past year (we’re 123,171 up on from last year’s rates of 122,405), but we have a long road to go if we are to reverse the damage done by the last nine years of a Tory government. In 2010, the first year that David Cameron was in office, we had 20,500 more officers than we see today. The correlation is undeniable, and the shadow of Brexit has meant that these cuts have slid under the radar for too long.

Our new Prime Minister has a very simple choice to make: he can either continue to perpetuate these cuts and allow the knock-on-effects to continue, or save our justice system before it becomes beyond saving.   

Lead Image Credit: Slinkierbus268 via Wikipedia

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