When considering the many challenges the Met is facing at the moment, the numbers involved are important to note:
– £400 million, is what the Met must save by 2020.
– 30,300 is the number of police officers, down from 32,000 and predicted to fall further.
– 774,737 is the number of recorded crimes – a rise of 5.7 percent.
In addition, gun crime, knife crime and sex offences are up, and calls to 999 have risen by 10 per cent. All this against the backdrop of the current terror threat, and our unwavering commitment to keep London and Londoners safe.
So we are having to ‘balance the books’ with fewer officers and less money. We must prioritise our resources to be able to cope with the demand so our officers can be in the right place at the right time to help the public.
The recently introduced Crime Assessment Policy is helping us to do just that. By empowering our officers and giving them a consistent policy, they are making judgements about whether it would be proportionate to continue further with an investigation in some lower level crime.
Of course we are not talking about things like homicide, kidnap, sexual offences, hate crime or domestic violence, but the lower level, higher volume offences such as shoplifting, car crime and criminal damage. This is not to say these cases will not be investigated further, however by applying the assessment policy we will be able to determine very quickly if it is proportionate to do so.
Crimes like burglary are of particular importance. Most burglaries are solved through forensics and we follow up every burglary where there are forensic opportunities and ensure a crime scene examiner visits the scene. Where the forensic examination produces leads we do, and will continue to, follow them up robustly. Where there are other investigative leads such as a vehicle number plate then we would also still pursue the investigation.
With the pressure on our resources it is not practical for our officers to spend a considerable amount of time looking into something where for example, the value of damage or the item stolen is under £50, or the victim is not willing to support a prosecution.
We believe the Crime Assessment Policy is the right thing to do. We need our officers to be focused on serious crime and cases where there is a realistic chance that we will be able to solve it. We also want them to be available to respond to emergencies and go to those members of the public that need our help the most.
The work and analysis we undertook before rolling out this policy told us that we would not lose the ability to solve cases and catch criminals. So clearly this is not about letting criminals get away with crime, or not investigating the cases we are solving at the moment, if we thought it was, we simply would not do this.