Shocking figures ought to make Boris and Priti ashamed

Suffolk Police stock images.
Picture:Sarah Lucy Brown

Only one in six police investigations result in a charge - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

At the time of writing, we are still waiting for the Sue Gray report into Boris Johnson’s alleged partying during lockdown.

Most of us have already made our minds up about what went on at Downing Street after a torrent of revelations, but Conservative MPs are still waiting to be told what to think.

In a significant development last week, the Metropolitan Police finally announced that they now had enough evidence to launch a criminal investigation – something they only do for “the most serious and flagrant breaches” of the Covid regulations.

We are now faced with the very real prospect of a sitting Prime Minister being fined for breaking the laws he himself set.

 David Ellesmere

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere says it's time the public saw "tangible benefits" from all the extra police precept households are being asked to pay - Credit: Charlotte Bond

If that does happen, Boris Johnson can count himself very unlucky.

The latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that the number of crimes that result in someone being charged has fallen to an all-time low.

For every six people charged with a crime last year, another 94 got away scot-free.

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For more serious crimes, the rate is even worse. For every 100 rapes that were committed in 2021, just one person was charged with a crime. 99 rapists were left to roam the streets, free to commit more crimes.

These are truly shocking figures that Boris Johnson and Priti Patel ought to be ashamed of. They reflect the damage that a decade of Conservatives police cuts have wreaked.

It also puts into perspective the Government’s tough talk of cracking down on crime which always seems to focus on increasing prison sentences.

It doesn’t matter if you increase sentences by five, fifteen or fifty years. They won’t be a deterrent if you’ve got as much chance of winning the lottery as you have of getting caught.

Many non-violent crimes aren’t even investigated now because the police don’t have enough resources. You will be given a crime number for an insurance claim but that’s about it.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said those who contravened restrictions needed to face the consequences. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

David Ellesmere says Priti Patel should be ashamed of current police statistics - Credit: Archant

No statements taken and no evidence collected that might link seemingly unconnected crimes.

Remember, Steve Wright, who murdered five women in Ipswich, was caught because his DNA was on the national database for stealing £80 four years earlier.

If he had not been convicted of this relatively minor crime, it would have taken longer to catch him and he may have gone on to murder again.

It’s not just police investigation departments that have seen cuts though. Much more visible are the huge cuts to community policing.

At the end of the last Labour government there were properly staffed safer neighbourhood teams. In the area I represent there was an Inspector, a couple of sergeants, five or six constables and a similar number of Police Community Support Officers.

They spent as much time out on the streets as they could, acting as a physical deterrent to crime but also, because they were known and trusted, picking up a wealth of useful intelligence about what was going on in the area.

A Norfolk police officer is currently under investigation for allegedly sharing racist and misogynis

In some areas neighourhood police teams have been halved - and cover twice the area as before - Credit: PA

Fast forward 12 years and we now have less than half the number of officers covering an area twice as large.

We can all see the consequences. Drug dealing taking place openly on the streets. People feeling unsafe in the town centre.

The Conservative government promised us more police officers and Suffolk’s Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner is hiking council tax by the highest amount again this year.

Isn’t it about time that we started to see some tangible benefits from all this extra money we’re paying in the form of permanent and visible police patrols back on our streets?

  • David Ellesmere is the Labour leader of Ipswich Borough Council