Yesterday we covered the, well, jubilation that followed the apparent discovery of a chief police officer who was prepared to say that the government were cutting police on the streets and this was driving up crime.
Well, unsurprisingly, all is not what it seems. Today there was an article on Police Oracle that appeared to row back from the reported comments.
Instead of an ‘inevitable’ rise in crime there is ‘could be affecting the crime rate’.
Instead of ‘513 officers off the streets’ we have ‘the loss of officers’.
There is recognition of the point made here yesterday – ‘the figures are only a reflection of one month’.
Other possible reasons for crime rising in that month are given – ‘there is evidence that people are struggling to get offenders remanded’. There are ‘clearly other pressures’ like ‘socio-economic factors’.
The ‘reduction in officer numbers “may be a contributing factor”‘.
I hold no brief for or against the Acting Chief. I’ve known of him for about 20 years, since he was a high-flying Inspector, but despite us both working in crime reduction in different parts of the same county for much of that time, our paths have not really crossed. I’m told by Lancashire Police that his comments were certainly not political, and that he is disappointed that they have been reported this way.
I have to say that I sympathise with him. I’ve frequently been in a similar position, having to put forward reasons to explain changes to crime figures, and perhaps that is why I believe today’s softer approach is closer to the intended meaning. When people see a little red on a chart they look for an explanation, and whatever is offered, often on a speculative or tentative basis, can be seized on as the explanation, and as we saw yesterday, turned to political ends with greater certainty than originally was asserted.
There will be more to come on this. I hope it is not too dull for people outside Lancashire, but the Acting Chief was merely the first unfortunate to say something close enough to what some people wanted him to say. The answers to the questions I sent last week are awaiting approval, so I hope to bring you a few concluding points soon. In the meantime though, congratulations to TopOfTheCops readers for the quality of comments on yesterday’s article.