‘Police struggling, outlook not good’

LAST weekend, I spent a day at Great Ormond Street Hospital talking about stalking with their Young People’s Forum.

For those of you who don’t know, I work for a leading national stalking charity, the Alice Riggles Trust.

It was a hugely insightful day. We discussed at length what it might feel like to be stalked, the importance of talking about what you are going through, and how to report any incidence of stalking to the police.

I also asked participants to critique a new webpage I am building on reporting crimes and they did not hold back!

Some comments were unsettling though, especially when they touched on these young people’s lack of trust in the criminal justice system, such as whether they would be taken seriously by police or if anything would actually come from reporting a crime.

Unfortunately, I was not really able to reassure them.

Data from the House of Commons Library showed that between January and September last year, 10,147 investigations into reported crimes in Wiltshire were closed by the police without a suspect identified.

This is equivalent to 37 crimes going unsolved every day.

In 2022, 439 reported burglaries in Wiltshire went entirely unattended at all.

Meanwhile, only 2,043 or 6% of all crimes reported in Wiltshire resulted in a charge or summons – meaning hundreds of criminals are let off the hook as victims are denied justice.

A great number of our officers work incredibly hard to serve our residents. But they are stretched, under-funded, and mismanaged.

Unfortunately, the outlook isn’t promising, as the Conservative government is set to miss its target of recruiting 20,000 more police officers by the end of next month. Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) numbers have also dwindled under the Conservative’s watch, falling by an average of 33% in England and Wales since 2015.

In Wiltshire, this is all against the backdrop of the force being graded as inadequate in areas including how the force responds to the public, how it protects vulnerable people and strategic planning and value for money less than a year ago.

We need a reset on policing and a return to community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and have the time to focus on preventing and solving crimes.

I hope next time I am invited to Great Ormond Street, young people can have a more positive outlook on policing.

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