Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Crime and Punishment

Two reports out this month shine a light on Surrey Policing.

A joint report by the Audit Commission with Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary heaped praise on the Surrey force for its efficiency in workforce deployment, centralising cross-cutting functions (like Human Resources) and rigour in achieving cost-savings. The report commended the Police Authority and Chief Constable for their leadership - whilst noting that Surrey has been forced to increasingly rely on local funding (council tax makes up 48% of Surrey police's income, compared to 12% in Northumbria).

Meanwhile, the 2009/10 Crime Statistics show a more mixed picture, which may reflect persistent funding cuts under the last government. Amongst the good news on this year's recorded crime figures:
  • Offences against vehicles are down 8% (on last year).
  • Criminal damage is down 11%.
  • Sexual offences are down by 2%.

However, the bad news includes:

  • Violence against the person up 8% (on last year).
  • Fraud and forgery up 11%.
  • Burglary up 4%.
  • Drug offences up 2%.
Perhaps more worrying still, the sanctioned detection rate - the number of reported offences ending up with a criminal sanction of some sort- is down this year, again, at 21%. That is below the average for the South East (26%) and England and Wales (28%). Broken down by crime, Surrey performs worst (at least 5% below the national average) in dealing with violent and sexual offences, burglary and vehicle crime. Of course, it is too easy to leap to judgment based on a single year's figures. Surrey is still a relatively low crime area - albeit in a relatively high crime country. But, as the graph below illustrates, sanctioned detection rates in Surrey have been on the slide for three years.

Plenty of food for thought for Surrey's Operational Policing Review, underway, as it tries to drive a more visible and responsive force. But, it also reinforces the case for national level reform - to cut the red-tape that keeps officers off the street, whilst making the force more accountable to the community for its priorities (instead of Whitehall) through an elected police commissioner.


James Marchington said...

Hi, I'd be interested to know why Surrey Police are one of the forces that are choosing to ignore the Home Secretary's scrapping of confidence targets and the policing pledge. Surely money spent on this could be better spent elsewhere?




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