Christopher Bullock once said that it is impossible in this life to be sure of anything except death and taxes. If he had been alive today instead of three hundred years ago I believe he may have revised this line to: “It is impossible to be sure of anything in this life except death, taxes and the Conservatives defending damaging budget cuts”.
In the spirit of Halloween, Theresa May’s zombie government hobbles on through yet another set-back. The Office of National Statistics and The Crime Survey for England and Wales both released their annual set of crime statistics with the former recording a 13 per cent rise with rises in the number of violent and sexual offences reported to the police. While it is prudent to note that the ONS figures only represent the amount of crimes reported instead of an absolute number of crimes committed, the rise in reported numbers of violent and sexual crime is still worrying in a country in which police numbers are dwindling after cuts since the Conservatives came to power.
John Flatley of the ONS has added credibility to this argument after the release of the stats stating that “whilst the improvements in recording crime are still a factor in the increase, we judge there have been genuine increases in crime”. He then went on to attribute these rises to more harmful categories such as knife crime and sexual offences.
I’ll concede that the rise in reported sexual offences may well be down to the gradual but still ongoing removal of the stigma around victims of these crimes, but the increase in knife crime and acid attacks comes from one salient reason: the lack of a visible police presence on the streets. Long ago seem the days when you might see a bobby on the beat in London. A survey conducted last August suggests that the public is noticing this too. Just one in five people surveyed believed the police to be visible on the street and it doesn’t take Albert Einstein to see the correlation. The lack of police presence leads opportunistic people to take advantage and begin flouting the law as they believe they can get away with it. If you are criminally-inclined and there may be a foot patrol officer around an area, you are much less likely to commit a criminal act, keeping the community and law abiding citizens safer.
Why is it then that Theresa May as both Home Secretary and Prime Minister has presided over unprecedented levels of police cuts? Did the Prime Minister accept that her government had contributed to these statistics through policy? No. The Tories did what they always do and buried their heads in the sand behind a mountain of stock phrases and promises to do something at a later date which, if past precedent is anything to go by, will never get done or will have very little effect. A primary aim of the state is to keep its citizens safe and it is only once government representatives get their heads around this that we may begin to put a stop to this alarming trend.