Increase in recorded crime not a blip, warns head of police chiefs

Rises in recorded crime cannot be dismissed as a "blip", one of Britain's most senior police officers has warned.

Sara Thornton, chairwoman of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said offences involving knives, guns and serious violence have all increased significantly.

She said: "So could this be the beginning of the end of the great crime decline?"

Last week, data revealed the number of offences recorded by police had topped five million for the first time in a decade.

Offences recorded by police in England and Wales
(PA graphics)

Forces in England and Wales registered 5.2 million offences in the year to the end of June - a 13% rise on the previous 12 months.

They included 1.2 million "violence against the person" crimes - a broad category including murder, assault, harassment and stalking.

The data also showed increases in the numbers of recorded knife-related crimes, thefts, frauds and sex offences.

Opening a joint conference for chief constables and police and crime commissioners, Ms Thornton said: "We've all got used to crime falling."

She acknowledged that some of the rise was due to a requirement to record offences such as harassment and assault without injury, but warned there are "worrying signs" about the increase nationally in violent crime.

Ms Thornton continued: "I do not think we can risk viewing this rise in crime as a blip.

"In the same way that experts have commented that there has been shift rather than a spike in the terrorist threat, I think that we are seeing a shift rather than a blip in crime."

She also flagged up record levels of 999 calls and growing "non-crime demand" to "bridge gaps" in local services.

Warning that the police service is "stretched", Ms Thornton said it was clear that the Government's 2015 "flat cash" settlement for forces is "unsustainable".

Ms Thornton is the latest senior policing figure to raise concerns about funding levels.

On Tuesday Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick warned it would be "incredible" to expect her force to find another £400 million in savings following years of reductions.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the Government has always been clear that decisions on funding "need to be based on evidence and not assertion".

Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP discusses local policing at #policeconf17@ukhomeoffice@PoliceChiefspic.twitter.com/Szyqkua2Xx

-- Association of PCCs (@AssocPCCs) November 1, 2017

She acknowledged that an increase in complex investigatory work and an unprecedented wave of terror attacks had put pressure on forces.

But she told the summit in London that police financial reserves now amount to more than £1.6 billion, while inspectors have made clear "greater efficiencies" are still available.

Ms Rudd said that she did not believe the public want to hear "disagreements between us" on how money is provided to police.

The Home Secretary accepted that part of being a police and crime commissioner is about speaking to the Government about resourcing.

"But it mustn't just be about lobbying the Government for money," she said. "It needs to be about cutting crime, delivering on the priorities you were elected on and being held to account by local people in your area when you don't.

"So when crime stats go up, I don't just want to see you reaching for a pen to write a press release asking for more money from the Government. I want you to tell your local communities and the victims in your area what your plan is to make them safer."

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