In the Media

Police funds boost ?fails to hit crime?

PUBLISHED July 19, 2007

An increase in police funding of more than 40 per cent, to ?12 billion a year, appears to have had little impact on crime levels, according to a Parliamentary report published today.

The Home Affairs Select Committee criticises chief constables for failing to make the best use of the tens of billions of pounds of taxpayers? money given to the service during the past decade. The committee?s report has found that, despite repeated efforts to cut down on paperwork, police spend an ?unacceptably high? 20 per cent of their time doing it.

Huge numbers of offenders avoid going to court because they are given on-the-spot fines, cautions or have offences taken into consideration. Only 53 per cent of cases that reach court result in convictions. For every 100 of the 10.9 million crimes estimated by the British Crime Survey 2005, there were three convictions.

The committee criticises the 43 forces in England and Wales for being slow to develop services that can be shared and for failing to use increased investment to maximum effect.

Today?s report follows a review by Tony Blair?s strategy unit less than a year ago that gave warning that little reform was possible in the service because of opposition from within.

The unit said that increases in spending on the police ?appear unrelated to productivity? and noted that ?there is still little chance that a crime will be detected and result in a caution or a conviction?.

The select committee says that in spite of the rise in police funding in real terms from ?8.5 billion to more than ?12 billion a year, most of the fall in crime occurred before the Home Office injected more cash.

It adds: ?Crime levels are affected by a range of factors other than police resources, including sentencing policy and the number of individuals in prison at any given time. Notwithstanding this, we would still have expected the recent significant extra investment in the police service to have had a measurable impact on crime.

?It is puzzling to us that the significant decrease in British Crime Survey-measured crime occurred before any significant increase in police funding or in police officer numbers.?

The committee concludes: ?We consider it unacceptable that the significant recent investment in the police is not being used to maximum effect.?

The number of police officers has risen by more than 14,000 since Labour came to power and a further 7,000 police community support officers have been recruited.

David Davis, Shadow Home Secretary, said: ?It is a shocking indictment of Labour?s record on crime that only half of all criminals ?brought to justice? are convicted in the courts, and that many offences are now treated as equivalent to a parking offence.?