Last week, the Office for National Statistics revealed the shocking increase in violent crime, both on a local and national level (writes Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya).
A 19% annual increase in violent crime nationally, with homicide up 14% and robbery up 22%, presents a huge challenge for police forces up and down the country – as these figures are the highest since comparable records began in 2011.
Our proactive local force is clearly tackling this challenge head-on, as crimes in Cambridgeshire were only up 6% - almost half of the 10% national average. However, I am concerned that many forces, including ours, are continually being asked to do more with less. These crime figures present a huge challenge to those whose job it is to combat it, yet frontline and community policing are still being slashed after eight years of austerity measures.
Moreover, the hostile environment perpetuated by this government has given the police another mammoth task – an unprecedented 17% rise in hate crime in just one year. How are forces meant to cope with these increases when there’s been a cut of 21,000 police officers since 2010?
It is another case of a vital public service being over-worked and under-funded by this government. We should be protecting those who protect us. The government’s policy of trying to keep the public safe on the cheap has failed miserably. Police forces and communities across the country are suffering from this misguided strategy.
My party has promised to recruit another 10,000 police officers in government. Restoring police funding and recruiting new officers is one of the many solutions available to help tackle this spike in crime. More officers being visible in their communities and engaging with residents can only be a step in the right direction when it comes to bringing crime levels back down in the future.
That being said, it is not the only solution. A wide-ranging crime prevention strategy, particularly aimed at young people, is necessary if we’re to combat this problem. Funding for youth services and community support is often one of the first to go when the government wants to cut costs, but in reality, these provisions should have ring-fenced funding. They’re a vital resource in keeping young people out of trouble, particularly when they are run by those who’ve committed crimes, rehabilitated and are now giving back to the community.
If this government is serious about tackling this staggering rise in crime, then they must realise that pursuing ‘efficiency’ in such a way that the police are unable to do their job properly is a dangerous path to go down. Over 600 police stations have been closed in the last eight years, and the Police Federation have gone as far as saying the British public are being failed due to the broken system created by harsh government cuts. Perhaps it’s time the Prime Minister started listening to them, instead of blindly pursuing her own reckless agenda.