Monday, 9 April 2018

Bears Crap in Woods - Shock!

The government has a problem. More murders are being committed in London than New York and the public is in danger of joining up some dots - cuts to the police = more violent crime. Alarm bells are ringing at No 10 and some urgent 'spinning' is required. By the end of the day home secretary Amber Rudd will have delivered; trouble is, her department seems to think differently. This in the Guardian:-    

Police cuts ‘likely contributed’ to rise in violent crime, leaked report reveals

Leaked Home Office documents undermine Amber Rudd’s claim that police cuts were not to blame for increase in violent offending

Government cuts to the police “may have encouraged” violent offenders and have “likely contributed” to a rise in serious violent crime, leaked Home Office documents have revealed. The documents cast doubt on claims by the home secretary, Amber Rudd, on Sunday that cuts to the police were not to blame for rising violence. The Home Office said it would not comment on leaked documents.

Rudd will on Monday launch a strategy aimed at tackling serious violent crime, which officials and ministers have been working on for months. The launch comes after a week of shooting and stabbing deaths pushed the homicide rate in London to more than 50 lives lost this year. The home secretary believes the strategy will mark a change in the approach to tackling serious violence, placing an equal emphasis on prevention and diverting youngsters from violence, as well as on strong law enforcement.

But the row over funding for the police threatens to overshadow the government’s new anti-violence strategy. Since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 police budgets have been cut, and officer numbers have fallen by more than 20,000. Labour and the police have claimed funding reductions have jeopardised public safety. Home Office statistics show the number of police officers fell from 143,734 in March 2010 to 123,142 in March 2017.

Figures released in November showed a 20% annual rise in gun, knife and serious violent crime across England and Wales, even as the crime survey estimated there had been a 9% overall drop in crime. The Home Office said “traditional crime” nationwide had dropped by almost 40% since 2010.

As part of the preparations for the new strategy, which will include tougher powers to seize acid from people who cannot provide a reason for carrying it, and a crackdown on so-called zombie knives, officials in February prepared a document on the factors behind the rise in violent crime, marked as “official – sensitive”. The document is entitled Serious violence; latest evidence on the drivers. A section on police resources says: “Since 2012/3, weighted crime demand on the police has risen, largely due to growth in recorded sex offences. At the same time officers’ numbers have fallen by 5% since 2014.

“So resources dedicated to serious violence have come under pressure and charge rates have dropped. This may have encouraged offenders. “[It is] unlikely to be the factor that triggered the shift in serious violence, but may be an underlying driver that has allowed the rise to continue.” A highlighted box emphasises that point: “Not the main driver but has likely contributed.” Another section, entitled Implications for strategy, says: “The implications are challenging. There is good evidence that increasing resources dedicated to targeting hot-spots and prolific offenders can be effective, but there are several competing demands for any additional resource.”

The document also says that it was unlikely that “lack of deterrence” was the catalyst for the rise in serious violence. “Forces with the biggest falls in police numbers are not seeing the biggest rises in serious violence.” Writing before the launch of her strategy to counter violence, Rudd said in a Sunday Telegraph article: 

“While I understand that police are facing emerging threats and new pressures – leading us to increase total investment in policing – the evidence does not bear out claims that resources are to blame for rising violence. In the early [90s], when serious violent crimes were at their highest, police numbers were rising. In 2008, when knife crime was far greater than the lows we saw in 2013-14, police numbers were close to the highest we’d seen in decades.”

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said: “The government’s own analysis seems to suggest that cuts to police officer numbers have had an effect in encouraging violent offences. If true this blows apart the Tories’ repeated claims that their cuts have had no effect.” Labour has long believed that Conservative cuts to police budgets and the consequent fall in officer numbers is a vulnerability for the government.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, will announce he is to preside over a roundtable of police officers, violent crime victims and experts as he launches his party’s local election campaign and will say: “Over the last eight years the Conservative government has decimated local services, the core services that are an essential part of holding our communities together. “You simply cannot maintain community cohesion when you slash funding to the police service and cut the number of officers on our streets by 21,000.”

Launching the raft of plans aimed at reversing rising violent crime, Rudd will say: 

“This strategy represents a real step-change in the way we think about and respond to these personal tragedies, these gruesome violent crimes which dominate the front pages of our newspapers with seemingly depressing regularity. A crucial part of our approach will be focusing on and investing more in prevention and early intervention. We need to engage with our young people early and to provide the incentives and credible alternatives that will prevent them from being drawn into crime in the first place.”

Rudd will not follow the example of initiatives in Scotland, which treated rising violence as a “public health” issue, but borrow some of what was learnt from it. The research underpinning the strategy found that half the rise in robbery, knife and gun crime can be explained by improvements in police recording. The strategy identifies rising crack cocaine use as a “key driver” behind rising violence, and also for fuelling urban crime gangs moving into rural areas to sell drugs, known as “county lines”.

Between 2014-15 and 2016-17, killings where either the victim or suspect were involved in using or dealing illegal drugs increased from 50% to 57%, according to Home Office figures. In addition, there has been a 14% rise people seeking treatment for crack cocaine between 2015/16 and 2016/17.

More pressure will be put on social media companies to take down content glamorising or celebrating violence or perpetuating gang feuds, but there are no plans for legislation. The new serious violence strategy will not involve ministers reversing their position on stop and search, contrary to some reports, officials said.

The spate of shooting and stabbing deaths in London last week, abated over the weekend, with no more reported. Police chiefs ordered 300 extra officers on to the streets, but that is at best a short-term measure. The Met commissioner, Cressida Dick, has warned her force will struggle with the additional cuts it has to make, as police numbers across the capital are predicted to fall to 28,000 if funding is further squeezed. She spoke in October of the need to find hundreds of millions of pounds worth of savings on top of the £600m of cuts the Met had already made: “I find it incredible that anybody would think that over the next four or five years we should lose that much extra out of our budget.”

In his last speech as incumbent in February 2017, Dick’s predecessor Sir Bernard (now Lord) Hogan-Howe said financial pressures put the police under pressure and “there are some warning lights flashing”. Neil Basu, the head of counter-terrorism at Scotland Yard, warned in a Guardian interview in November that national security was being endangered by cuts to local policing, which amount to a potential disaster in the fight to stop terrorism.


  1. From the London economic Website:-

    Analysis: If you take 20 per cent of the Met's funding away - something gives

    Former Met Commissioner Ian Blair echoed the sentiments of Jeremy Corbyn this week by highlighting the impact cuts to police funding have had on the recent violent crime spree.

    A Freedom of Information request obtained by The London Economic following a spate of attacks in the capital showed some London boroughs now have higher homicide rates than many major UK cities.

    Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show this morning, Sajid Javid appeared stumped as he attempted to defend the rise in crime in relation to police budget cuts.

    Marr used the words of Ian Blair, who spoke on the radio this week, saying: “If you take 20 per cent of the Met’s funding away something gives, and the thing that’s given is neighbourhood policing”.

    The sentiment echoed that of Jeremy Corbyn who put funding cuts to Theresa May in parliament at the start of the year.

    In a fierce grilling the Labour leader told May: “You can’t have public safety on the cheap”, asking her if she regrets cutting 21,000 police officeers with crime on the up.

    Theresa May had said as Home Secretary when she oversaw unparalleled cuts to policing: 20,000 frontline police officers, 1,300 firearms- trained officers and 26,000 community support officers that “the police need to stop crying wolf and scaremongering about terrorism”.

    1. Guardian letters:-

      In the face of the tragic and shocking rise in violence in London, it is good that there is a success story in Glasgow to draw on, where they have shown that reduction is possible (Treat violence as a public health crisis, say experts, 6 April).

      One of the most compelling arguments for Glasgow’s long-term, joined-up public healthcare approach came from the police, who argued, on economic grounds, that early prevention pays.

      To have senior police officers advocating for primary prevention from maternity services onwards shows the kind of cross-agency thinking that has helped Glasgow succeed. Building strong, protective family relationships, through highly accessible support for parenting and families, can dramatically alter children’s life trajectories, and having all agencies working to a common agenda to promote healthy development continues to build resilience for individuals and communities. Youth services and the police of course have their role in this developmental journey. Support for parenting, education, decent family housing, good mental health care, play and recreational opportunities for all may seem like softer options, but they are hard necessities in this bigger picture.
      Professor Emerita Rachel Calam Manchester

      Though cuts in police are critical, the rise in murders is also due to other factors. Knife and gun crime has risen steadily since 2014 – in other words, since austerity started to bite, but the government has ignored this. Half of the recent murder victims have been aged 26 or under (Stabbing takes murder toll in London to 46 so far this year, 2 April). As the former CEO of a national youth charity, I see a clear link with the £22m cuts from London’s youth services, with more than 30 youth centres closed, according to a London assembly report. The government must take positive action, spending more on youth and children’s services, crime prevention and community policing. A coordinated approach worked in Glasgow, and even New York seems to be reducing its murder rate.
      Don Macdonald
      Chair, LFJ Youth Integration

      The gang warfare in London brings to mind Chicago in the 1920s. It was alcohol that was prohibited then; it is drugs now. Perhaps it is time to think the unthinkable and repeal prohibition. This would bring so many other benefits, as drugs could be controlled, regulated and taxed. Would it be less unthinkable, I wonder, were the victims middle class and white?
      Nick Haysom Winchester

  2. BBC news.

    "A man believed to be in his 40s has been shot dead by police in Romford, east London, Metropolitan Police say.

    The victim was said to be making threats in the Collier Row area, claiming he had a gun.

    The Met said he was shot by officers at about 04:45 BST and was pronounced dead at 05:17.

    The shooting has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) as well as to the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards.

    The IOPC has confirmed it has launched its own investigation into the fatal shooting.

    Road closures around Collier Row Road, Lodge Lane and Melville Road remain in place.p

  3. I watched Savid Javed on Marr Show on Sunday morning and it was a cringe moment when he was asked about massively reduced Police numbers and the link to rising violent crime. No link, the facts, once upon a time Police numbers were much higher and violent crime was even higher than now and on that basis he claimed no connection. Political obfuscation.

  4. Talking of crap in the woods, Rudd's a real sweetheart. here are some snippets about the dear lady:

    On the people of Hastings (her constituency): “You get people who are on benefits, who prefer to be on benefits by the seaside. They’re not moving down here to get a job, they’re moving down here to have easier access to friends and drugs and drink.”

    A former banker with J P Morgan, she was also a director of two offshore tax avoidance asset management firms in the Bahamas. She never declared this and the information came out in a leak.

    "Companies House has records of Monticello PLC, a short lived company of which Rudd was a Director. It attracted many hundreds of investors who put money in, despite never appearing actually to do anything except pay its directors – presumably including Rudd. After just over a year of existence it went bankrupt with over £1.2 million of debts and no important assets."

  5. Police cuts are of course going to have an impact on crime. But the rise of violent crime in London shouldn't be seen just as a criminal justice issue. Its the amalgamation and the coming together of years of shite social policies, and our neoliberal right wing Conservative government should harbour much of the blame.
    Much of the explanations been given relate to gangs and drugs. But if you have a drug policy that leaves drugs in the domain of criminal fraternities, then the relationship between gangs and drugs will always exist.
    But it's education and housing policy too. Leaving school with few or no qualifications from a class size of 40 and over pupils and living somewhere like Broadwater farm or Tower Hamlets is likely to leave the option of benefits or a zero hour contract at KFC.
    Housing is a national issue, but a huge problem in London. But to raise funds many local councils are selling off social housing to the private sector.

    That's resulting in high concentrations of the poorest and socially deprived people being pushed into certain areas. Some call it social cleansing, but it certainly creates ghettos and large areas where social deprivation is the common defining factor.
    It's not drugs and gangs, just as its not drugs, drones and mobile phones that's caused the prison crisis. It's failed social and political policy. It's austerity and the decisions that are being taken to combat vicious cuts, and the government need to accept resolution will only come from being more socially oriented because the free market isn't going to fix it, the free market approach is part of the problem.


    1. Step-by-step – or is that brick-by-brick? – social cleansing is coming to Croydon.

      A luxury hotel in central London is the swanky venue today for an auction for property speculators at which £7.2million-worth of former social flats and houses is to be flogged off. Three flats in the sale are in Croydon, being sold by a housing association.

      Savills, the estate agents, is staging the property auction at the Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square. The Croydon flats are among 14 housing association properties being sold into the private market. There’s another six being flogged by councils.

      The social housing being put up for sale, from Croydon, Harlesden and Camberwell, is in areas where there are more than 7,000 families in temporary housing and 104 people sleeping on the streets, according to government figures.

      When Savills last conducted an auction like this, last month, it included a two-bed HA flat in Bayswater which went for a cool £603,000. Also sold, The Guardian reports, was “a housing association flat in Paddington belonging to a woman who was forced to move after her housing benefit was cut by the so-called bedroom tax”.

      The newspaper reports, “These sales are part of a wider trend that has seen some housing associations sell off social housing in high-value inner city areas in order to fund new developments, which tenants claim are frequently let at close to market rents, or even sold on the open market to private buyers.”

      Here in Croydon, Brick by Brick, the council’s wholly owned housing developer, is conducting a version of a massive transfer of public property into private hands. Using a loan of public money, Brick by Brick has bought £9million-worth of council property and land to develop 1,000 homes, of which more than 600 will immediately go for private sale, with fewer than 400 to be handed to housing associations for rent or shared ownership.

      Housing association Notting Hill Housing is selling five flats worth more than £1.6million in today’s auction. It is Notting Hill Housing who have been involved in the redevelopment of the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark. There, more than 2,000 council homes have been replaced by… zero council homes.

      In 2015, Neil Hadden, the chief executive of Genesis housing association – which is soon to merge with Notting Hill Housing – told Inside Housing that housing people on the lowest income was not his “problem” any more, as his focus was supplying homes at different price points.

      Today’s Guardian report quotes a Notting Hill Housing tenant, Gemini Verney-Dyde, as saying of the social housing auction, “If you sell off central London property because of its value, you are essentially socially cleansing. The only people who can buy those properties are wealthy people.”

  6. T'ain't rocket science, is it? Poor social policy, closure of youth services, schools further and further away from home, bedroom tax breaks up communities, social care services decimated, family centres closing etc etc etc. Whaddaya know, an increase in anti-social behaviour and crime. What are the causes? Too much UK money going into the hands of a small number of individuals instead of into public services.

    And if I hear 'legal highs' blamed for anything else, I am going to scream.

    1. I would have thought that the recent events in London and Amber Rudds announcements today would have generated more of an input from other agencies like probation youth justice services and charities that work alongside, and even the unions could have taken the opertuity to raise their own issues.
      Some areas of the CJS have however remained silents

    2. Nope, no nasty voices or complaints please.

      We have to be quiet and sit with hands-on-heads while (1) Boris praises the election of Viktor Orban & makes up lies about Novichok (but says nowt about chemical warfare in Syria), (2) Amber denies any responsibility for anything & (3) Whatsisname at MoJ says nothing at all, just Gaukes.


    1. Durham police has been criticised by privacy campaigners over the "crude" data used in software to help process offenders.

      The tool helped predict which people were likely to commit more crimes.

      To generate its assessments on reoffending, it drew on data gathered by credit referencing firm Experian.

      Durham said the tool helped identify those most at risk of reoffending so they could be offered more help to "improve their life chances".

      Experian said the information was drawn largely from surveys and public data and that it sought to avoid stereotyping in its descriptions.

      Durham's use of the data came to light as part of an investigation by digital rights and privacy group Big Brother Watch (BBW) into police AI research.

      It said Durham had been working on software called the Harm Assessment Risk Tool (Hart) that tried to work out whether suspects were at low, moderate or high-risk of reoffending.

      Hart was trained using information about 104,000 histories of people previously arrested and processed in Durham over a five-year period. This was expanded with additional information about offenders based on what they did up to two years after being processed.

      In a blog BBW said this police data was augmented using an Experian dataset, called Mosaic, that was produced after profiling all 50 million adults in the UK.

      Among the broader categories Mosaic classifies people into are groups called "disconnected youth", "Asian heritage" and "dependent greys". The categories were annotated with lifestyle details such as "heavy TV viewers", "overcrowded flats" and "families with needs".

      In a statement, Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch said it was "chilling" for Experian to gather information on millions of people and sell it on to organisations.

      "But for police to feed these crude and offensive profiles through artificial intelligence to make decisions on freedom and justice in the UK is truly dystopian," she said.

      In response, Sheena Urwin, head of criminal justice at Durham Constabulary, said it worked with Experian to improve its understanding of local communities.

      "Our aim is to reduce harm to the communities we serve and improve life chances for the people we come into contact with," she said.

      The experimental research project involving Hart tried to find out if it was possible to predict someone's chance of reoffending, said Ms Urwin. Some of those at a high risk would get support to limit that risk, she added.

      Hart was only one element that Durham considered when assessing offenders and the final decision remained with the force's custody sergeants rather than the software, said Ms Urwin.

      Experian said many organisations, including charities and NGOs, used the same data as Durham to get a better understanding of a person's likely lifestyle based on where they lived.

      "In creating the descriptions and labels we are always sensitive to the way we describe and name clusters, thinking about how these labels might appear to a consumer," it said.

      "We adopt strong ethical standards in the wording we use and when a new Mosaic is built, these names and descriptions go through several approval stages."

    2. Bad news. "You're not getting bail."
      Good news. "Your credit score says you're good for H.P when you do get out."

  8. I used to work in Approved Premises before taking early retirement. Over the years ( 1998 - 2016 ) I attended many different training courses including Oaysis.
    It was on this course that I pointed out that at Approved Premises we occasionally accepted individuals on bail who had no previous convictions and were pleading ' not guilty ' to their alleged offence. Despite this they were still subjected to an assessment process which labelled them as an ' offender ' The course tutor was unable to give a satisfactory answer.I always thought that Probation staff should be none judgement.