'Officers have largely given up policing public spaces', says ex-constable

22 July 2022, 15:20 | Updated: 23 July 2022, 16:48

By Fiona Jones

Ex-chief constable Sir Peter Fahy calls for a "fundamental reset" of the police as crime rates hit a 20 year high and charge rates hit an all time low.

A mere 5.6% of the recorded 6.3 million crimes led to court action in 2021-22, Home Office figures reveal.

This rate is down from from 7.1% the previous year, and from 16% in 2014-2015.

The figures also reveal the number of recorded crimes this year is 4% higher than the 6.1 million crimes recorded in 2019-20, the previous high.

Ex-chief constable Sir Peter Fahy told LBC that a "fundamental reset" is essential as officers have "largely given up" policing in public spaces, due to demands elsewhere.

"When I started in policing...there was a big emphasis on foot patrol and visibility," he said, "the fact is over that period...the police taken responsibility for a whole host of other issues, things like domestic abuse are taken much more seriously.

"The fact is the police largely have given up policing in the public space."

The former chief constable told LBC he is "struck" by the magnitude of shops with security guards, and councils that have employed local security staff to public areas, jobs initially performed by the police.

"The police have moved away...from just concentrating on crime and this is reflected in these particular figures," he said.

He told LBC that the public mood is that there is "no point calling the police" as they are constantly busy with other issues.

"We need to have a fundamental reset of what we want the police to do," the former copper said, recommending the US's decision to set up a separate emergency number to deal with mental health crises instead of piling these responsibilities on to officers.

He said: "If you talk to a lot of police officers...they talk about low morale and having to deal with things that they feel are just the responsibility of other agencies."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We know there is more to be done now that restrictions have been lifted and we expect the police to ensure they are getting the basics right.

"The government has given policing an additional £1.1billion this year, including investing millions in tackling crime in the worst affected areas. We are also supporting the recruitment of 20,000 additional officers across England and Wales, with over 13,500 already on the streets, keeping our communities safe."

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