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By Lord Moylan
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Police numbers fall as recorded crime shows sharpest rise in a decade

3 min read

The number of frontline police officers has dropped, while recorded crime has risen by its highest in a decade, new figures have revealed.

A new Government report shows the number of officers in crime-fighting roles has gone down by 1%, or 840 officers, in the year to March 2017 - continuing the falling trend since a peak in 2009.

The reduction in officer numbers comes alongside an overall drop in police staff by 2,237, leaving the force’s total number at its lowest since 2003.

At the same time, police in England and Wales recorded nearly 5 million offences in the year up to March, a hike of 10%, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Officers recorded 458,021 more offences in the year ending March 2017 than the year before, largely driven by increases in violent crime, which was up by 175,060, or 18%, and theft at 118,774, or 7%.

Sexual offences, criminal damage, robbery, burglary and possession of weapons also went up by smaller increases.

The ONS say as well as genuine increases in some crime types, improvements to recording processes and expanding the range of offences covered were also factors in the rise in reported crime.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said both sets of figures were a “damning indictment” of the Conservative Government and a reflection of “over-stretched” police forces.

“The Government claims it is protecting the police budget. It isn't,” she said.

“More importantly, they aren't allowing the police to protect the public. The police recorded number of violent crimes has almost doubled from 635,000 on 2009/10 to over 1.2 million now. It is an abysmal record of failure.

Liberal Democrat Home Office spokesperson, Ed Davey, said: "This Government is failing in its duty to keep our streets safe.

"The Conservatives have utterly disrespected the police by freezing their wages and cutting their budgets time and again.

“It's time for the Government to admit the impact of these savage cuts and ensure our police have the funding they need to keep us safe."

However, the British Crime Survey, which involves face-to-face interviews with victims of crime, today showed a 7% fall in the last year.

A spokesman for the ONS said: “The latest figures show the largest annual rise in crimes recorded by the police in a decade.

“While ongoing improvements to recording practices are driving this volume rise, we believe actual increases in crime are also a factor in a number of categories."

“Some of the increases recorded by the police are in the low volume, but high harm, offences such as homicide and knife crime that the Crime Survey is not designed to measure.

“If the increases in burglary and vehicle theft recorded by the police continue we would expect these to show up in the survey in due course. We will continue to monitor these trends and investigate the factors driving any changes.”

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said police forces had become "more efficient", meaning they were able to provide a good service to the public with fewer staff.

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