The rise in recorded crime is a result of unthinking carelessness from the Conservatives. What happened?by Ian Blair / January 29, 2018 / Leave a comment
I think Amber Rudd is a decent and effective Home Secretary. I think one of Theresa May’s defining moments as a politician was when she brutally took on the Police Federation over their complacency and self-serving resistance to change, something no other Home Secretary has ever done, despite the urging of police chiefs.
However, the Conservative-led coalition and the present administration have had a blind spot about policing since their return to government in 2010. They, the self-proclaimed party of law and order, has neither understood nor liked the police in the post Stephen Lawrence era. They thought police chiefs were too outspoken and too focussed on things other than crime fighting (like preventing it in the first place).
What they have done as a result increasingly risks that party of law and order being seen as an emperor with no clothes. The latest crime figures make this clear.
The Coalition embarked on an unfocussed programme of reform and saw the police budget (alongside those of the prison, probation and courts services) as a useful bank account to raid in a time of austerity.
Their first reform was to create Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), a solution in search of a problem but which had the useful effect of distancing the Home Office from difficult decisions. Their second was to muzzle chief officers from speaking out, by not only abolishing the Association of Chief Police Officers but making clear to the successor, much less powerful organisation, the National Police Chiefs’ Council, that their views had no place in the public square. With the exception of the Met Commissioner, when did you last see or hear a police chief talking in public?
They then started to reduce the central police budget dramatically while, at the same time, capping any rise in budgets to be raised by the PCCs. As an example, even when finally allowing an increase in police pay last year, the Home Office announced it but told the PCC’s to fund it from their existing budgets.
“Last year, police numbers declined to a level last seen in 1985”
The effect has been like boiling a frog. There was little change in crime levels at first but as police budgets tightened, the number of police officers began to…