Presentation from Kerry Barker, Labour’s Avon & Somerset PCC Candidate

Shocking statistics showing a dramatic decline in local crime detection rates were presented to the March meeting of North Somerset CLP members.

Kerry Barker, Labour’s candidate for the post of Avon & Somerset Police & Crime Commissioner, told the meeting how Tory cuts have resulted in the closure of police stations – such as those in Clevedon, Nailsea and Weston-super-Mare – the loss of experienced officers and the end of key specialist crime units.

The impact of these cuts has had ‘serious and detrimental’ effects in the area, Mr Barker told the meeting, with detection rates for most types of recorded crimes having slumped over the past eight years – with many now running at less than 10%.

Some people now have so little faith in the policing system that they can no longer be bothered reporting crimes to the police, he warned.

Mr Baker – who is a Bristol-based barrister with more than 50 years of experience in the criminal justice system – said only 19 of the 380 burglaries reported to the police in North Somerset in 2019 had been detected, and detection rates for robberies had fallen to just 8%. Only 7% of reported arson and criminal damage offences were detected, with a similar figure for public order offences – all significantly down from the figures in 2012.

Most worryingly, he added, while violent and sexual offences rose from 471 in 2012 to 1,485 in 2019, the detection rate dropped from 55% to just 11% in the same period.

Mr Barker said the figures reflected the abandonment of Labour’s neighbourhood policing policies, cuts in resources and staffing, and the loss of specialist teams dealing with such crimes as burglary, sexual offences and child abuse.

Many long-serving officers left the force after ‘omni-competent’ teams replaced the specialist units, he explained, and this has resulted in 70% of Avon & Somerset police now having three years’ experience or less.

If successful in the May PCC elections, Mr Barker said he would seek a return to neighbourhood policing policies, reopening local police stations and building or renting police houses where police officers can become part of their communities again. Specialist teams, such as burglary squads and sexual abuse teams, should be brought back, while better support for local authorities and health authorities to improve the care given to people with mental health problems or the homeless would reduce the social care burdens placed upon the police.

The following table shows the numbers of crimes reported to the police and the numbers successfully detected (that is where the culprit has been identified and some form of formal action taken against him or her).

Crime Reported Detected* %
Burglary 380 (486) 19 (31) 5 (6)
Bicycle Theft 63 (75) 0 (4) 0 (5)
Shoplifting 386 (251) 98 (122) 25 (49)
Other thefts 576 (548) 25 (61) 4 (11)
Robbery 25 (9) 2 (3) 8 (33)
Arson and Criminal Damage 558 (666) 41 (189) 7 (28)
Drugs 124 (231) 65 (220) 52 (95)
Public Order Offences 524 (150) 44 (109) 8 (73)
Violence and Sexual Offences 1485 (471) 159 (260) 11 (55)

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