CHARLES GRAHAM - Police deserve credit

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THE natural expectation is for crime to rise in a recession.

That official figures over the last six years suggest the opposite has happened is a huge credit to our police and other agencies for their efforts not only in detecting and preventing crime, but also in steering criminals back onto the straight and narrow and preventing others at risk from leaving it.

They used to bring out figures demonstrating that the fear of crime was very high in Greater Manchester and this was deemed as almost as corrosive an element of our society as real offences.

I haven’t seen any statistical evidence of this nature published of late, but I would like to think that it too would be lower than it was.

In the last 20 years life has become increasingly difficult for your common or garden crook.

The days when he could break the driver’s window and be off in a car just seconds after hotwiring it are a distant memory. These days if you’ve not got the key you’ve not got a prayer of stealing a vehicle.

Home security has become more sophisticated, CCTV and town centre blade and drug detection technology have headed off many an incident while social media have helped victims and potential victims (whether they be people, pubs or other businesses) alert each other to dangers. Closer work between the police and other parties including the council and door staff have proved very handy.

Even your scrap metal scavenger has struggled to find lead flashing to snatch from historic buildings now the owners have wised up to repeat thefts and replaced the traditional rainproofing with some kind of pvc sealant that is of no value to an intruder.

But the down side of all these successes is that the hard core of criminals take ever more desperate measures to line their pockets (perhaps to feed a drug habit).

As far as car thefts are concerned, the need to have the key leads to more risk-taking - hook and cane thefts through the letterbox or house burglaries are the most common means.

But even more disturbing manifestations have also emerged.

Police reported this week that a woman who had left her engine idling while it defrosted in Kitt Green was dragged to the ground as she tried in vain to stop a man from driving off in it.

Luckily she escaped without serious injuries but the police say that it could so easily have resulted in a tragedy and I’m sure the thief wouldn’t have cared.

But then we also had this terrible incident in Hindley where a 59-year-old man suffered multiple stab wounds when he was attacked outside his father’s home by thugs who, after inflicting near fatal wounds, then demanded the keys to his car.

Bizarrely they then ran off without stealing the vehicle. The latest police reports indicate that the victim is going to pull through, thank goodness.

However the savagery of the onslaught is frightening indeed and indicative of the horrific lengths to which some people will go to achieve their ends.