‘We’re winning war on crime despite the cuts’

A crime scene investigator dusts down a car for finger prints
A crime scene investigator dusts down a car for finger prints

LETTER OF THE DAY: Hats off to two top firms

Have your say

They may be battling dramatic changes in the face of multi-million pound budget cuts – but Hampshire police say they are winning the war on crime.

Critics claim morale among officers and staff alike is at its lowest ever in the wake of swingeing austerity measures imposed by the coalition government.

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Marsh

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Marsh

Many officers say they are stretched to the limit, coupled with changes to pay and pension conditions.

But despite having to do more for less and the force being reorganised – while maintaining front-line policing numbers where possible – crimes reported to Hampshire Constabulary are falling for the fifth consecutive year.

Latest performance figures show all crime has dropped force-wide between April and October – no mean feat when the force is having to axe up to 1,200 officers and staff to save cash.

The most dramatic drop was in vehicle crime reports, which have fallen almost 30 per cent year-on-year to 3,821 from 5,437. However this is still almost 21 reports a day on average across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Anti-social behaviour still tops the list of reported incidents, with 42,431 reported in the period – an average of more than 231 a day.

Even so, reports of anti-social behaviour are down 8.84 per cent from 46,548 in the same period last year.

House burglaries – which had soared by 11 per cent year-on-year by this time last year – have fallen 27.03 per cent to 2,623.

Police put the drop down to Operation Nemesis which saw officers focusing on reducing and cracking more acquisitive crime – including burglary, robbery and vehicle crime.

As well as publishing images of ‘wanted’ offenders, police conducted visible and undercover operations to crack down on burglars.

Officers from Safer Neighbourhood teams offered burglary prevention advice to residents as well as advice on securing vehicles and personal safety.

Overall, crime reports across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have fallen 16.17 per cent from 64,121 to 57,777.

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Marsh, pictured, said: ‘The continuing fall in crime is very significant. It represents far fewer victims of crime with all the personal distress and disruption that they would have experienced as a result.

‘Our focus on offenders and people who commit crime and anti-social behaviour has made the force area a hostile environment for criminals. This is a testament to the hard work of our officers and staff throughout the force who have made a significant contribution in driving down serious acquisitive crime in particular

‘The police service is going through a period of significant change, but during these times, our priority has remained to provide an excellent service to the communities we serve and protect people from harm.

‘We measure success by the fall in crime which we’ve achieved through our ability to adapt, innovate and invest.’

By the end of August the force was already ahead of the £36m savings target it was scheduled to meet by the end of March next year, having saved £37.5m.

And there were 2,227 front-line officers by the end of September – exceeding the target of 2,205.

But senior officers have warned tough challenges lie ahead as Hampshire police battle to save up a total of up to £55m by April 2015.

In plans put in place under departing Chief Constable Alex Marshall – who is leaving the force to become chief executive of the new National College of Policing – £47.6m savings have been identified.

But the force is £7.4m adrift of its target after yet more cuts were announced.

So far cash has been saved by reorganising policing areas, shutting police stations and front desks, staff redundancies and not replacing some officers who have left or retired. More services are being shared with neighbouring forces including IT, firearms, the dog unit and roads policing.

And some officers are working from alternative bases from council offices to supermarkets as part of the reshuffle.