One of the issues that frequently came up on the doorstep and in surveys during the recent local elections was policing and anti-social behaviour. Whilst local authorities have a role to play in anti-social behaviour, most residents were disappointed in the response from the police. I have seen at first hand the systematic reluctance to investigate crime. This is not good news as the biggest deterrent to criminals is the chance of conviction rather than long sentences. At a meeting in 2021, many local councillors accepted the need to raise the tax for policing on the basis of all the additional officers and investigations that could be carried out. These pledges by the now departed Hampshire Chief Constable do not appear to have been met.
To give just one example. A staggering 79% of car thefts in Hampshire went unsolved last year. Meanwhile, just 3% resulted in a charge or summons. These latest Home Office statistics on crime outcomes showed that a grand total of 2747 car theft cases in Hampshire were closed in 2022 without a suspect even being identified - equivalent to 8 car thefts going unsolved every day. It follows previous research from the Liberal Democrats which showed that police failed to even attend 3 in 4 car thefts last year. Nationally, just one in thirty (3.4%) car thefts resulted in a suspect being charged.
The Conservative government is overseeing a “car theft epidemic”, as criminals act with impunity while victims are denied justice. Years of unnecessary Conservative cuts and putting resources in the wrong places has decimated community policing. Since 2015, the Conservatives have also taken over 4,000 Police Community Support Officers off the streets. People just want to know that if their car is stolen or house broken into, the police will turn up and properly investigate it.
We can fix this by a return to proper community policing - where officers are visible and trusted, with the time and resources to focus on preventing and solving crimes. Why can we not do this?
Luigi Gregori Liberal Democrat Spokesperson North West Hampshire