Burglaries, robberies, muggings on the rise… is the downturn to blame?

Shamik Das reports on fears the economic downturn is responsible for the rise in burglaries, robberies and muggings in London, as revealed by The Times this morning.

Ministers fear the global economic downturn is to blame for a rise in burglaries, robberies, muggings and vehicle crime in London in the year since the coalition came to power, reversing years of falling crime. Of perhaps greater concern is that the increase in recorded felony comes before the full effects of the government’s police cuts are felt.


Today’s Times reports (£):

“Robbery, including muggings, pick-pocketing, burglary, shoplifting, theft of bicycles and interfering with motor vehicles increased… Figures show that there were more than one thousand more burglaries last month compared with May last year.

“Robberies in the capital jumped by 15 per cent from 3,257 in May last year to 3,749 this May; house burglaries rose by 18.5 per cent from 4,410 to 5,228; and thefts of and from vehicles by 6 per cent to 9,299.”

The reports says the increase in crime “threatens to undermine the Conservatives’ reputation on law and order”, coming “at a time when the Government is introducing plans to overhaul sentencing with the aim of sending thousands of fewer offenders to jail”, with one minister telling the paper there are indications crime “is about to turn”, adding (£):

“The reason it has not gone up yet is because unemployment has not risen that much.”

On the effects of the downturn on crime, the report concludes (£):

“Although crime is not expected to be rising consistently across the country, senior officers believe that it is an inevitable consequence of the recession. ‘It won’t be an even, upward progress, there will be a ragged line with different patterns in different areas and some crime types shooting up, while others remain level,’ one said.

“Chief constables and criminologists say that there is usually a gap between the worst of the financial crisis and the impact of austerity on the public before the effects are reflected in crime patterns. They believe that crime will rise more dramatically as sections of the public feel the impact of public spending cuts, unemployment and, perhaps most significantly, cuts in benefit payments.”

Recently, the chairman of the Police Federation criticised home secretary Theresa May’s policies, which were seeing the the police “careering towards” possible “metdown”; he said:

“The policing budget has been cut by almost three times that of the Ministry of Defence. And yet you tell us and the communities we service that there will be no effect on the delivery of policing. That is sheer nonsense…

“And now, it is being spun by both and you and many senior police officers that we have to make a choice between job losses and suffering up to a 20 per cent cut in our pay and conditions. No! Home Secretary – you chose to make these cuts.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, meanwhile, claimed last month that the Tories’ “reputation” on law and order “was only ever rhetoric”, while only last week the chair of Barking Conservatives defected to Labour, saying:

“I’m joining Labour because I believe in more police to make our streets safer and support for the NHS. On both of these issues the Conservatives led by David Cameron and Boris Johnson have failed, cutting the number of police officers and neglecting the health services we all rely on.”

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