Can the force reduce crime with reduced resources?

Mo Farrah after missing out on a gold medal
				 Picture: Adam Davy

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Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that robberies and car crime have risen in Portsmouth.

At a time of economic hardship, desperate people do desperate things.

That doesn’t in any way excuse the behaviour of those who take what isn’t theirs. But it acknowledges the reality of recession.

If you’re struggling financially, the temptation of resorting to crime to help pay the bills may prove too much.

A total of 246 robberies have been reported to police in Portsmouth in the past year – up eight per cent on 2009/10.

Meanwhile car crime rose two per cent to 1,859 reports. These statistics stick out because, overall, figures show that other crimes fell in the city over the past 12 months.

We can never know exactly how many of those incidents were driven by the offenders’ need to steal something from a house or vehicle in order to make some money from selling it on.

But police commander for the city, superintendent Norman Mellors, says: ‘Reasons for these increases are hard to generalise, however statisticians often link periods of economic hardship to increasing incidents of acquisitive crime such as robbery and theft from vehicles.’

So how can the police tackle this worrying rise? Remember that Hampshire Constabulary is operating against a backdrop of having to save £20m in the next year because of the government’s spending cutbacks.

That figure could be as high as £50m between now and 2015, with at least 250 police staff and 161 officer posts already axed.

Hundreds more jobs will go, police stations will close and more and more services will be merged with neighbouring forces.

Yet the county’s top policeman, Chief Constable Alex Marshall, has vowed: ‘We will continue to provide an excellent service, reduce crime, respond to emergencies and target those individuals who commit crime and prey on the vulnerable.’

We take him at his word. But we’re left wondering how he’ll manage to do it with greatly-reduced resources.