Do more police cut crime?

Richard Garside
Saturday, 27 February 2010

Interesting letter in The Guardian last week from Home Office minister David Hanson. More bobbies on the beat do cut crime. Apparently. Here is what the minister wrote:

'Overall crime, measured by the British Crime Survey, is down by 36%, violence by 41% and burglary by 54%. The latest statistics showed that for crimes recorded by the police there is an 8% reduction for burglary, 9% for robbery and 4% for violence against the person. And these falls have taken place during a recession.'

This has been made possible because of the investment this government has put into policing. We have over 16,000 more police officers than in 1997 and our investment in neighbourhood policing has delivered a further 16,000 police community support officers.

I guess Mr Hanson’s civil servants forgot to slip of copy of the Strategy Unit policy report on crime into Mr Hanson’s bedtime reading pile. The Sunday Times got hold of a leaked copy of it in December 2006. The newspaper quoted an interesting observation from the report: ’80% of (the) recent decrease in crime (is) due to economic factors’.

The published version of the report can be found here. But you will search in vain for the reference to economic factors. It was on page 13 in the original report. When I and other colleagues at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies wrote an analysis of Labour’s criminal justice reforms a couple of years ago we referenced it. But in the published version that is now available it has been, ahem, ‘redacted’. I wonder why?

Perhaps Mr Hanson’s civil servants should give him a copy of the unredacted version to peruse.