VIDEO: Police set to miss 2% crime reduction target
Devon and Cornwall Police are likely to miss a targeted 2% reduction in crime this year, Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer has admitted.
Latest crime figures from the force are due to be published later this morning. While crime is expected to be down slightly, for the year so far, figures for July, August and September are up on 2012.
And the surge over the summer months is now thought to have put the target set by Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg in jeopardy.
In a video of questions put by the commissioner to the chief constable over the force’s performance, Mr Hogg said he was “seriously concerned about the increase in total crime”.
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Mr Sawyer responded: “I’m not confident of producing the 2% reduction ... I’m confident still that we will see a decrease, or probably come in pretty close, without an increase in crime.”
He went on: “You have set a target in agreement with me, I’m not sure we will get it.
“But violence with injury is down, robbery down, burglary down, burglary non-dwelling down, vehicle offences down, criminal damage down, drug trafficking offences down.
“So we have to be very careful when we talk of a total crime number in terms of are we looking in the right areas in terms of vulnerability, harm to people, harm to children and I would say, ‘yes we are’.
“But I’m not complacent because clearly those offences are taking place, there is a victim somewhere to be dealt with.”
In the 26 minute video, which has been released on YouTube, Mr Sawyer said analysis had showed crime was down in 28 weeks of the last 52 weeks and was stable over six weeks.
He added: “It is the last 14 weeks where we have seen the spike.”
Mr Sawyer said some of the increase was down to “summer policing”, when the region’s resident population is boosted by millions of visitors, but due to increased confidence in reporting offences like sex crimes.
“This is a worry,” the chief constable said. “It is a worry because I gave you a commitment on crime reduction – it is a focus for the force.
“Some of it, I think, whilst bad because there is a victim, is a good sign of the change in culture and approach. Some of it is bad, some of it, unequivocally, is not good news.”
Mr Hogg said he was concerned about the force's performance and that it may fall further behind compared to others.
He said: “As the public’s representative it’s my duty to highlight areas where performance can be improved.
"I am pleased that more serious crime figures are reducing, but it’s important to also address the other issues which matter to people every day.
"I have protected officer numbers in Devon and Cornwall, and I will continue to hold the chief constable to account for the efficient and effective delivery of my police and crime plan. He is well aware of my concerns."
Dr Karen Vincent, the commissioner's performance manager added: "Analysis of crime trends in Devon and Cornwall suggests a complex interaction of issues including the large influx of summer visitors this year, reductions in the numbers of officers, an impact of financial hardship to individuals especially in already deprived areas, and increased confidence in the public to come forward to report some of the more sensitive offence types including sexual and domestic abuse.
"The challenge going forwards is to identify the most effective ways to address these issues in collaboration with our partners.”
Figures from Devon and Cornwall Police, up to Sunday, October 13, showed crime was down 4% over the last 12 months.
They showed dwelling and non-dwelling burglary were both down 14.2%, robberies have fallen by 12.8%, vehicle offences by 10.5%, and criminal damage by 11%.
Geographically, crime in Plymouth is down 3.8%, in Devon down 5.3% and in Cornwall down 1.8%.
The force’s statement did not, however, mention that “violence without injury” was up 12.7% to 9,649 offences or that public order offences had risen by 16.3% to 6,063 crimes.
It also omitted shoplifting which has gone up 3.6% to 7,651.
Deputy Chief Constable David Zinzan said: “The most up-to-date figures released today show that Devon and Cornwall is continuing to reduce crime and the number of victims of crime.
“Any crime is one too many but in a force area as vast as ours we have seen a reduction in burglaries with now eight burglaries a day across 850,000 homes being reported. And of the hundreds of thousands of vehicles in the region, we have 15 reports a day of a vehicle being damaged or stolen.
“We have 51 crimes per 1,000 of population, so we continue to be a safe place to live and work.”
“Importantly, we have continued to cut crime even after four years of cuts and additional savings of £7.5 million during this performance year.
“We saw excellent reductions during the performance year up until June when we faced with one of our busiest summer for years.
“Devon and Cornwall faces particular challenges in the summer, policing an influx of approximately 10 million more people with no additional resources. This is great news for businesses and our communities but it does put unprecedented demands on our service.
“Our police and crime commissioner has made a commitment to keep police officer numbers above 3,000, but we are still 400 police officers, 414 police staff posts and £47 million lighter than three years ago.
“We have also made great progress towards police and crime commissioner Tony Hogg’s commitment to focus resources on the most vulnerable groups – this is evidenced by increased reporting of crimes such as domestic abuse and sexual offences.
“Our staff are working closer than ever with our communities to do a fantastic job in keeping them safe. It is a genuinely magnificent response by them to change the way in which they work to meet the new challenges they face on a very regular basis.
However, Mr Zinzan accepted there are challenges ahead in maintaining the reduction in crime and working with significantly less resources.
He added: “There is no doubt that nationally we are seeing an increase in some types of crime and Devon and Cornwall is no different. Areas like drink-related violence, antisocial behaviour and some sexual offences are a worry for many forces in the country.
“Although these figures show we are performing well, we are constantly analysing data and evolving the way in which we police to give the best service possible to the people of Devon and Cornwall.”