Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom has welcomed a 32 per cent drop in crime during the pandemic but warned figures could rise as lockdown restrictions are eased.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that total crime, excluding fraud and computer crime, dropped by just under a third during April and May compared to a two-month average in the pre-lockdown period.
“We can be proud of the work of our members during lockdown,” said Liz. “Our officers worked tirelessly to support the lockdown, to protect the NHS and to serve our communities, and they were proactive in tackling drug offences.
“We welcome a drop in crime because we know the impact it has on victims and on communities.
“But with businesses and retail outlets closed and people largely confined to their houses, it isn’t a surprise to see such a reduction in crime. However, as lockdown restrictions are beginning to be eased and people begin to return to something like a normal way of life, it’s inevitable that we’ll see an increase in crime.
“To ensure we see a downward trend on crime figures in the long-term, we need more officers on the street and for the police service to be properly resourced. While crime has fallen, demand on the police service has not. Our officers are still busy and they are still feeling the strain as they try to meet increased demand with reduced resources due to the years of budget cuts. We are recruiting more officers but we are not back to where we were before the austerity measures began.”
Key findings of the ONS study were:
- Underlying the reduction in crime were significant falls in theft offences, particularly domestic burglary and other theft of personal property
- Police recorded crime levels during the lockdown period were much lower than respective months in 2019, with 25 per cent less crime in April 2020 and 20 per cent less crime in May 2020
- Reductions were seen across many types of crime, in particular, theft offences fell in April and May 2020 to almost half the level recorded in April and May 2019
- One exception related to trends in drug offences, where levels rose by 22 per cent in April 2020 and 44 per cent in May 2020 compared with April and May 2019. This reflects proactive police activity in pursuing these crimes during lockdown
- Police recorded crime fell by 5 per cent in March 2020 compared with the previous month, followed by a larger 20 per cent decrease between March and April. In contrast, crime increased by 12 per cent from April to May, as the easing of lockdown restrictions began.
Ché Donald, the Federation’s national vice-chair, said: “We must not be lulled into a false sense of security, as the figures will inevitably rise again. The answer to this is that we still need more officers on the streets in order to drive crime down in the longer term and to keep the public safe. The much-promised Government uplift of police officers will assist with this, but it is yet to be felt by my colleagues and the public.”
He said he was highly encouraged by the finding that 91 per cent of adults who responded to the Telephone-operated Crime Survey for England and Wales (TCSEW) were satisfied with their local police officers.
He added: “We have all read the recent negative media perceptions of policing so this overwhelming vote of confidence from the public will be appreciated by our members. This reflects the amazing work done by policing during the pandemic and the respect in which they are clearly held by the majority of the public.”