Thursday, 19 April 2012

Arrests drop in North Wales

The Home Office have today published statistical data on arrests for notifiable offences across England and Wales for 2010/11. In the face of rising crime, one would have expected an increase in arrests but in fact the opposite is true, where the number of arrests in North Wales Police area has plummeted by a whopping 14% or in real numbers by 3,125 arrests,  from 22,014 in 2009/10 to 18,889 in 2010/11.

This is not reflected across Wales, with a much smaller decrease in South Wales and Gwent and even a small increase of 2% in arrests in Dyfed Powys Police areas.

I don't suppose we need to remind Conservatives and Liberal Democrat politicians in Wales that you can't make drastic cuts to budgets without affecting the force's capability to fight crime.

On the other hand perhaps there is a need to investigate why arrests in North Wales have plummeted compared to other Welsh Police forces. Was it because North Wales Police reorganisation 12 months ago was an unmitigated disaster or are there other reasons?

 Perhaps our Police Commissioner candidates could make their views known.


Anonymous said...

Might there be a link to the role of PCSO's? - Not a reflection on their professionalism, - just that they have no powers of arrest?

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

There probably is, but to be honest most offenders are arrested by response officers. PCSO's have been around for years but we haven't this plummet in arrest figures before.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Recorded drug crimes in NWales are down 21%. Nearly all drug offences are recorded as crime on ARREST, so with arrests down AND drugs crime down it is clear that drug abuse is no longer a priority for NWP and is subject to much reduced enforcement.
The next step is to get data for stop and search and search warrants under Misuse of Drugs Act for 2009/10 and 2010/11 which will probably show a big drop again. The question is whether members of the Authority, partners and other interested parties have been told that NWP have put drug offences on the back burner.

Richard Hibbs said...

Thanks to Plaid Wrecsam for the invitation to contribute.

I mainly want to focus on the drugs issue (see above), but first of all on crime statistics generally : since I still hold down a day-job (unlike some of the other PCC candidates) and part of my work is statistical modelling, why not spend a moment or two with me in the exciting mathematical world I sometimes inhabit .. ?!

The 14% drop in arrests relates to the financial year 2010-11 which ended on 31 March 2011. This predates the reorganisation which came in on 4 May 2011, and also predates the cuts, which therefore cannot be the reason. QED

According to the force statistics, recorded crime was actually falling in 2010-11, and fell by 6.7% which is kind of consistent with a 14% drop in arrests that year. NB you rightly point out it has been rising again since last April.

I'm certainly no apologist for the veracity of crime statistics (I don't trust them most of the time) or the new force structure - it's the long-term trend towards centralised delivery of policing that has been the unmitigated disaster in my view, as officers beat the retreat from the communities they are supposed to serve (and from legislation they are supposed to be enforcing - see post on drugs) using specious statistical arguments. Response Hubs are just another brick in the wall.

Here's an excerpt from some more views on crime statistics and PCCs I expressed in January following the Westminster Hall debate on policing in North Wales which the local press weren't interested in publishing back then:

" ..we were treated to the usual slanging match about whether crime and police officer numbers have been moving up, down or sideways over the past 15 years, but with an exciting new spin: are cuts in police officer numbers and increases in crime statistically correlated?!

Maybe if less time had been wasted on the party political antics, and on trying to wrest the coveted ‘tougher-than-thou’ badge from each other’s grasp, we might have got a bit closer to the truth in the 90 minutes available.

The Rt Hon Elfyn Llwyd MP briefly managed to steer the debate back towards the issue of rural policing in North Wales and the election of Police & Crime Commissioners later this year, at a time when there is “no money in the kitty” for smart commissioning. But I think he is perhaps being overly pessimistic – I am certain that the collective wisdom of the community can prevail.

Rising crime in a time of financial austerity is after all the crucial challenge for the Chief Constable at present, given that the latest force statistics show a 3.5% increase so far this year in North Wales - contrary to the Home Office statistic widely quoted during the debate that crime in North Wales is down 1%.

Politicians trading crime statistics should be kept well away from police commissioning."

Richard Hibbs
Independent candidate for Police & Crime Commissioner in North Wales
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