GREATER Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner has warned that crime is on the rise and the situation is likely to get worse as the Government’s programme of “reckless” cuts continues in policing and across the public sector.
Tony Lloyd was speaking as the Home Office released crime statistics for the period up to September 2013.
Although the figures for that period show that crime overall fell, it rose in several key areas, including burglary and theft from the person.
More worryingly, GMP’s own figures show that since September, the 20-year downward trend in crime is coming to a shuddering halt and it is likely to rise within the next few months.
Mr Lloyd said: “I have warned for some time that the Government’s reckless programme of cuts would have an impact on community safety and we’re starting to see this happen in Greater Manchester and across the country.
“For 20 years now crime has been falling and it should alarm all right-thinking people that this trend is going into reverse. It endangers the great work that GMP has done, working with partner agencies and our communities, to build safer neighbourhoods over the course of decades.
“It’s time for the Government to face up to the fact that the speed and severity of the cuts are damaging our communities. Of course, we will do everything we can here in Greater Manchester to ensure the police continue to provide the best service it can in difficult circumstances. I am currently preparing my budget plans for the coming year, which will be announced next week. These plans will focus on maintaining and supporting our police service, with an emphasis on neighbourhood policing.”
But Mr Lloyd welcomed the overall reduction, adding: “Despite this gloomy news, I am pleased that crime is down by 6.4 per cent. For victim-based crime, there has also been a five per cent reduction, which means there were nearly 9,000 fewer victims during this reporting period.
“This shows that GMP is outperforming the national average, which is down to the great leadership at GMP and the officers and staff who every day work to keep our communities safe.”
Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy added: “Greater Manchester Police previously had one of the highest crime rates outside London. We have improved significantly against rates in other similar sized cities. Whilst there has been some criticism of police crime statistics, GMP have very thorough audit processes in place and is also subject to external scrutiny through Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
“The Force is concerned however at the growing level of fraud on the Internet which is not fully reflected in the statistics and offences of domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation.”
Mr Lloyd echoed Sir Peter’s comments on the concerns about the legitimacy of crime statistics. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) recently said it could no longer approve crime figures on the basis of information recorded by police. The head of the ONS said there was accumulating evidence the figures were not reliable.
But he reassured local folk that they can be confident in the local crime figures, pointing out that the figures were scrutinised by GMP’s internal statistics department, before being subjected to rigorous scrutiny by staff in his own office.
To provide additional public reassurance, Mr Lloyd has also ordered a full independent audit of GMP’s crime statistics which is currently under way.