‘Every theft must be investigated’ - Suella Braverman should focus on funding police, not criticising them
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Suella Braverman says it is "unacceptable" crimes such as shoplifting, criminal damage and phone or car theft have been treated as "less important" by police. So now police forces in England and Wales have agreed to follow all evidence such as footage from CCTV, doorbells and dashcams, as well as phone data, to find suspect or stolen property.
Launching the new policy in a round of TV interviews, Ms Braverman said: "The police have made progress in preventing crime across the country with neighbourhood offences like burglary, robbery and vehicle theft down by 51% since 2010. Despite this success, since I became Home Secretary I’ve heard too many accounts from victims where police simply haven’t acted on helpful leads because crimes such as phone and car thefts are seen as less important - that’s unacceptable. It has damaged people’s confidence in policing."
Challenged on how police could achieve this aim at a time when they are so over-stretched, Braverman told BBC Breakfast: “The police have a record number of men and women working on their frontline than ever before. So they have the numbers of people who are there.
“This is about ensuring that those resources are properly diverted to what I call common sense policing, back-to-basics policing, that they don’t dismiss certain crimes as unimportant or minor. It’s about ensuring that they are freed up from doing other time-consuming tasks.”
Rather than ranting at police forces, the Home Secretary should try listening to them - The Police Federation of England and Wales said forces are already "stretched beyond human limits".
Over the coming weeks and in the lead up to next year’s general election, you’ll hear Suella Braverman and the government claim the Tory’s have increased UK policing numbers by 20,000 - what they won’t tell you is that that this was only after a similar number of police staff were cut since the Conservatives took power in 2010.
Her own department’s figures show that there are 149,000 officers currently, compared to 146,000 in 2010.
Richard Garside, director of the charity Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said while the new policy sounds like a "no-brainer", he is concerned that it will divert resources away from more violent crimes such as rape and sexual assault.
"We have a tsunami of male sexual violence towards women and girls as it is," he said. If the police are being told to put even more resources into tackling, say, car and phone crime, that means there’s going to be less time and less focus on those really serious violent offences that, quite rightly, the public are concerned about."
The fact is, the Home Secretary is expecting more and more from police with less and less resources. Earlier this year, trade union UNISON, warned that forces in England and Wales could face a combined budget shortfall of almost £721m by 2026, potentially putting public safety at risk.
When trying to blame police forces for the state of crime in the UK, all Suella Braverman is doing is taking the public for fools.
While Suella Braverman is appearing in front of the cameras making it look like she’s presenting a shiny new crime policy, it’s actually just asking police forces to do the bare minimum of stopping crime and supporting victims. A bare minimum that has become unachievable for many police forces across the UK because of Tory cuts, austerity and Conservative mismanagement.
The Home Secretary may think she is cracking down on crime with her latest policy, really, all she’s doing is highlighting 13 years of Tory failure.