Saturday, 22 March 2008
Justify the increases, Devon and Cornwall police told!
Devon and Cornwall police are once again facing accusations that their annual above inflation increases in their share of the council tax are not justified, following the release of new crime figures showing that crime in Devon and Cornwall have risen substantially over the last ten years.
The Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for St Ives, Andrew George, said:
“The police need to explain this information and what they are doing to address it. If they are taking an above-inflation increase on council tax then certainly they need to demonstrate that the local community is seeing some positive results.”
The figures show that there has been an increase in the crime rate of 12.6 per cent in a number of areas between 1998-9 and 2006-7. This compares with an increase of 6.2% in England.
Devon and Cornwall police have not been available to comment on the figures, but Liberal Democrat Cornwall County Councillor, Jeremy Rowe, said:
“I can't criticise the police - they are doing a very good job under difficult circumstances. The money from Government is never enough, but you have to deal with what you get. That's why the police council tax precept has risen by 7.9 per cent this year.”
Being a Devon and Cornwall Police Authority member he would say that wouldn’t he!
The full story, including link, can be found below:
Author: Louise Vennells
Date : 22 March 2008
RURAL CRIME SOARS
Crime in Devon and Cornwall has risen by double the national average while Labour has been in power, figures out today reveal. Westcountry MPs have called on police to explain the figures and said it was "time to see consistent results" after year-on-year rises in council tax, which helps to pay for police services. Only last month an increase of 7.9 per cent was announced.
The Conservatives, who have released the ten-year crime figures, say the information they obtained through Parliamentary questions shows rural areas particularly have lost out, with higher increases in every criminal activity, except drugs offences, throughout the country.
The party compared figures for 1998-99 with those for 2006-07 in a number of categories. Overall, the total crime figure for Devon and Cornwall had risen by 12.6 per cent - compared with just 6.2 per cent nationally.
Conservative MP Hugo Swire, who represents East Devon, said: "The fact is that every year the police put up their council tax precept with the promise of however many more front-line officers. But these figures show that the statistics have gone the wrong way.
"We need to see some concerted results from Devon and Cornwall Police, rather than promises of things to come every time they raise the tax."
But Mr Swire said he believed Stephen Otter, who took over as Chief Constable towards the end of 2006, was "first class", and had made effective changes.
"They are saying the right things, but people in the most rural areas still aren't seeing enough evidence of police being out and about in their communities."
Andrew George, Lib-Dem MP for St Ives, said yesterday: "The police need to explain this information and what they are doing to address it. If they are taking an above-inflation increase on council tax then certainly they need to demonstrate that the local community is seeing some positive results."
Over the decade, the biggest rise was in acts of criminal damage, which soared by 86.1 per cent - way over the national figure of 34.7 per cent. Incidents of violent crime rose by 112.9 per cent, compared to 108.1 per cent nationally.
The force fared better when it came to tackling robbery. There was still a significant increase of 40.5 per cent, but it was lower than the 51.7 per cent nationally. However, in rural areas across the country the figure was very close to the national rate.
Over the same period, Devon and Cornwall saw a reduction in burglaries of 30 per cent - but it fell short of the national decrease of 34.7 per cent.
The only area in which the two counties have won a significant victory is in tackling drugs - a crime which tends to be the scourge of urban areas. Incidents fell by 0.2 per cent compared with a national increase of 42.9 per cent.
Nobody from Devon and Cornwall Police was available for comment yesterday, but in January Mr Otter praised staff for their hard work in starting to turn the crime figures around.
"I think problems in the two years before my arrival had caused them to be distracted, morale had dropped and people's heads were down. People were focused on internal issues rather than providing an excellent service to the public," he said.
"What I was able to do was get them focusing outwards. We explained what we wanted to prioritise and focus on. We were clear about the service we wanted to provide to the public."
Mr Otter has recognised the need for more police out tackling crime. As part of the latest budget, he has released 200 officers on to front-line duties.
The very latest figures, from last year, show that his approach is already having an impact - crime over the force area fell by eight per cent and detection rates were on the rise.
Brian Greenslade, leader of Devon County Council and a member of the Police Authority, yesterday warned people to be wary of the figures released by the Conservatives. The Lib-Dem councillor said the Westcountry was one of the safest places to live and to visit.
"We have recently been able to unveil some very promising downward trends on crime," he said. "Over the past six or seven years, we have been able to invest very strongly in additional police officers. In Devon and Cornwall, the number of officers and Police Community Support Officers has risen by about 1,000 since the turn of the century.
Fellow Police Authority member Jeremy Rowe, who sits on Cornwall County Council, said: "I can't criticise the police - they are doing a very good job under difficult circumstances.The money from Government is never enough, but you have to deal with what you get. That's why the police council tax precept has risen by 7.9 per cent this year."
Posted by Rhisiart at 06:36