Last month CityAM reported that crimes in the Square Mile hit the highest level in three years during November, as the City of London police grapples with budget cuts against a worsening national backdrop. There were 799 crimes reported to the City of London police during November according to official statistics, well above the monthly average of 620 since the beginning of 2016.
Earlier this week the Performance and Resource Management Sub (Police) Committee of which I am a member was briefed on the latest figures. Good news is that overall crime in the City has fallen by 7% in December to 644 reported cases. But there are some clear trends emerging, which we need to address.
The City of London is one of the safest cities in the world, which is a testament to the commitment of our police officers. The fact is figures show crime is rising across England and Wales. This follows years of government cuts, which are now starting to bite.
“The Square Mile is a vibrant place, with a thriving night-time economy and cultural activities. This is very welcome, but this changing city does put extra pressure on police resources. There are some good initiatives being implemented to address these pressures, such as using night-time levy to allocate dedicated resources and a new patrol strategy increasing visibility at hotspots.”
I believe we need to do more and review the impact anti social behaviour and violent crime associated with the night-time economy as part of our policing plan. The City of London Police needs to look at efficient use of current resources, but we also need to look at funding levels, especially with the pressure of government cuts, to ensure the City remains a safe and attractive place for everyone to work, life and visit.
Budget pressure and crime rises are felt nationwide
Crime statistics are a muddled picture nationwide, but police statistics suggest crime in on the rise – particularly in deprived urban areas and the police has come under pressure to maintain its enforcement activities despite years of budget cuts.
“As with all police forces nationally, and in light of increasing demand, we face constant pressure on our budget and have done for several years,” Alistair Sutherland, assistant commissioner explained to CityAM. “With crime on the rise this does provide a significant challenge but we are always looking for ways to maximise our resources and efficiency.”
At the meeting of the Performance and Resource Management Sub (Police) Committee members received statistics which show overall crime for end of December reflects an in-year rise of 26% overall. Three areas with the greatest rise in volume are:
- Theft offences
- Public Disorder
Vulnerability is a particular area of concern, which needs highlighting. This is reflected as requiring “Close Monitoring” due to in-year rise of rape and other sexual offences by 13%. Violent crime is increased by 30% and Acquisitive Crime (this includes shoplifting and theft offenses) increased by 29%.
Anti-Social behaviour & the night-time economy
The night-time economy in the City is markedly different to five or six years ago. We now have over 900 licensed premises in a very small area, the majority of which are open 7 days a week until the early hours of the morning, bringing more visitors to the City than ever before. With this in mind, it is hardly a surprise that alcohol-related offences are on the rise, but the City Police has put in place some measures which look like they are starting to pay off.
For example a dedicated Gold Group has been formed to look at current trends and response required, and the 2018 Christmas Campaign trialled a new Patrol Strategy focussing on hot spots to increase visible police presence.
Early figures indicate that this new focussed approached might be working with as December saw a reduction in 48 anti-social behaviour related crime compared to November. But it’s too early to assess longer term impact. Inconsiderate behaviour, begging and drunken behaviour consistently the main three areas of reporting.
As a member of the Police Committee I’ll closely monitor progress, and encourage the City Police and City Corporation (licensing teams, night time levy etc.) to work closely together. In addition, I have asked the Police Commissioner to report back on impact of changing trends across the City contributing to the rising levels of crime.