The timing is always precisely stage-managed to fit neatly into the nation's calendar of sporting and other events such as the beginning of the parliamentary summer recess, so with all our elected representatives giddy on free booze and in full 'gate-fever' mode, there's zero chance of holding anyone to account. There's no BBC Question Time either and even the utterly brilliant Channel 4 news is reduced to barely 30 minutes, so the perfect time to announce:-
1) a further raising of the state retirement pension age
2) the scrapping of the promised northern rail electrification programme
3) a large increase in reported crime
Of course number three is particularly significant because as Theresa May continued to do battle with the Police over budget and staffing reductions when Home Secretary, she continually pointed to a reduction in crime as a justification. This was always somewhat contentious of course, not least because huge increases in on-line fraud was not included.
This most unelcome news also goes to the very heart of the Tory political mantra that Tory government = lower crime and even worse, just might be connected to a steadily reducing number of police officers.
This from the Guardian:-
Crime rise is biggest in a decade, ONS figures show
Police-recorded crime has risen by 10% across England and Wales – the largest annual rise for a decade – according to the Office of National Statistics.
The latest crime figures for the 12 months to March also show an 18% rise in violent crime, including a 20% surge in gun crime and knife crime. The official figures also show a 26% rise in the murder rate to 723 homicides, which includes the 96 cases of manslaughter at Hillsborough in 1989.
More alarmingly the official statisticians say the rise in crime is accelerating, with a 3% increase recorded in the year to March 2015, followed by an 8% rise in the year to March 2016, and now a 10% increase in the 12 months to this March.
The accelerating rise in crime comes as Home Office figures show a further fall of 924 in the past year in the number of police officers, to 123,142 in England and Wales. This is the lowest number of officers in England and Wales since 1985. Police numbers have fallen by 20,592 since 2010.
Ministers will also be concerned that the country is becoming increasingly violent in nature, with gun crime rising 23% to 6,375 offences, largely driven by an increase in the use of handguns. Knife crime has also spiked by 20% to 34,703 incidents – the highest level for seven years. The largest increase in knife crime came in London, which accounted for 40% of the rise.
There has been a particular increase in the number of robberies at knife point to nearly 13,000 incidents. Rape or sexual assaults at knife point also show large percentage increases, although the numbers remain low with a total of 142 offences.
The 10% rise in police-recorded crime to nearly 5m offences include increases in burglary and vehicle theft, suggesting that the long-term fall in these higher volume offences may be coming to an end.
In contrast to the ONS figures, the separate official crime survey of England and Wales also released on Thursday, which asked 35,000 households if they had been a victim of crime in the previous year and is not designed to measure high-harm but low-volume offences such as murder and knife crime, shows a 7% fall compared with the previous year excluding fraud and computer misuse offences. If online is included, the number of crimes estimated by the survey rises from 5.9m to 11m.
The policing minister, Nick Hurd, said that crime, as measured by the crime survey, was down by one third since 2010 and by 69% since its 1995 peak.
“The Office for National Statistics is clear that much of the rise in violent offences recorded by police is down to better recording by forces but also believes some of the increases may be genuine and clearly there is more we must do to tackle the violent crimes which blight communities,” said the Home Office minister.
“We recognise that crime is changing and we are determined to get ahead of new and emerging threats to the safety and security of our families and communities. Our latest action, announced in the past week, includes urgent work to bear down on acid attacks and proposals to strengthen the law to get knives off our streets.”
The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said the figures were a damning indictment. “The Tories have cut police officer numbers again in the latest 12 months and now there are well over 20,000 fewer than in 2010,” she said. “The Tories simply aren’t allowing the police to protect the public. Labour in government will tackle rising crime.” She added that Labour would bring back 10,000 officers when in power.
The Liberal Democrats’ Ed Davey said the figures had exposed the Conservative record of failure on crime. “This government is failing in its duty to keep our streets safe,” he said. “The Conservatives have utterly disrespected the police by freezing their wages and cutting their budgets time and again.”
John Flatley, head of crime statistics and analysis at the ONS, said: “The latest figures show the largest annual rise in crimes recorded by the police in a decade. While ongoing improvements to recording practices are driving this volume rise, we believe actual increases in crime are also a factor in a number of categories.
“Some of the increases recorded by the police are in the low-volume, but high-harm, offences such as homicide and knife crime that the crime survey is not designed to measure. If the increases in burglary and vehicle theft recorded by the police continue we would expect these to show up in the survey in due course. We will continue to monitor these trends and investigate the factors driving any changes.”
The 10% rise in police-recorded crime – an increase of 458,021 offences – was largely driven by increases in violence against the person (up 175,000 offences), theft (up 118,000), and public order offences (up 78,000).
There were smaller volume increases in criminal damage and arson (24,000), sexual offences (up 14,000), burglary (up 10,500), and robbery (up 8,000).
The 26% rise in the murder rate to 723 homicides, an increase of 149, cover the 96 cases of manslaughter at Hillsborough in 1989, which were included in the annual figure as the inquests were finally concluded. Without the Hillsborough deaths the number of homicides rose by 9%.
All forces across England and Wales, except Cumbria and North Yorkshire, recorded an annual increase in their latest figures.
Official statisticians say that although police-recorded crime figures lost their national statistics status in 2014 because of quality issues in changes in recording, they say the year-on-year increases represent actual increases in crime. The 10% rise in police-recorded crime contrasts with a 7% fall in the official crime survey.
Alexa Bradley, deputy head of crime statistics at ONS, explained why the CSEW and police records data appeared to show different trends. “It is important to remember that the sources differ in the population and offences they cover,” she said. “At least half of the increase in police-recorded crime series is in offences not covered by the survey, including shoplifting, public order offences and possession of weapons.”