One of Britain’s most senior chief constables has admitted his force do not fully investigate about 60 per cent of reported crimes due to lack of resources.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is one of the UK’s largest forces but in 10 years has lost 2,000 officers due to austerity budget cuts.
Now GMP’s chief constable Ian Hopkins has revealed how they have been forced to ruthlessly prioritise their investigations.
He said about 600 offences a day, such as thefts from vehicles, were being ‘screened out’ and dropped as ‘we don’t have enough officers’.
Greater Manchester Police Ian Hopkins has admitted his force do not fully investigate about 60 per cent of reported crimes due to lack of resources
Talking to BBC Radio Manchester’s Cops On The Frontline show, the police chief explained: ‘We record about a 1,000 crimes-a-day.
‘Around 60 per cent are screened out very early on, so there is a very basic investigation undertaken then about 60 per cent are screened out.
‘We are having to target our resources to some of the more serious stuff like serious and organised crime, counter-terrorism.
‘You just don’t have the capacity to deal with some of these things.
‘You could spent weeks investigations some things and you will never get an outcome because the solvability factors are just not there.
‘If your life is in danger, you’ve been seriously hurt, we will still turn up. If there’s an immediate threat we will be there and we will be there in numbers really quickly.
‘But if your shed’s been broken into, your bike’s stolen, your vehicle’s broken into and there’s no witnesses, there’s no CCTV and there’s no opportunity for forensics, we’ll be screening that out really quickly.
‘Your likelihood of a police officer turning up to deal with that is almost non-existent and that’s where the public have really started to feel it. That bit worries me.’
The number of frontline police officers across England and Wales has fallen over the past decade, while violent crime is rising.
GMP is not the only force to screen reported crimes on the basis of threat and the likely evidence available.
Shops hire their own ‘police officer’ as local force is ‘stretched’
High Street shops in a city centre have banded together to hire their own police officer because they say funding cuts mean the local force can no longer protect them from shoplifters and antisocial behaviour.
Business owners had even stopped reporting retail crime to police, after failing to see any obvious response from officers.
Now a group of over 600 businesses from retail giant John Lewis to independent, family owned shoe shop W J French in Southampton, Hants, have pooled resources in a bid to stop the assaults and other crimes they are plagued with.
Go! Southampton, employed by the Business Improvement District (BID) in Southampton, Hants, has hired a former police sergeant to ‘fill the gap’ between local businesses and the police.
Hampshire Constabulary was in meetings earlier this year over its stretched budget, with a proposed extra £24 a year to be taken from council tax in the county in a bid to boost the force’s budget by £18m.
Now Martin Conlan, who spent 30 years in the police force, meets face-to-face with business owners to discuss their crime problems, and does the leg-work of a police investigation, focusing on gathering detailed evidence to hand over to ‘overstretched’ police.
But it is believed Mr Hopkins’ ’60 per cent’ admission is the first time a chief constable has put a percentage figure on this practice.
Last year, the chief constable of West Midlands Police said budget cuts and falling police numbers meant his force sometimes provided ‘a poor service’.
The National Police Chiefs Council said: ‘We think the public want us to use our time productively and focus our resources where there is greatest harm and where we can secure a positive outcome.’
The fall in police numbers mainly attributed to changes in central government funding, down by almost a third in real terms since 2010.
Mr Hopkins said it accounted for about 80 per cent of his budget, adding: ‘We’ve been promised a funding formula review.
‘That hasn’t materialised but that needs to happen.’
Increases in council tax, such as that announced last February, which will pay for an extra 320 GMP police officers, ‘are never going to give Greater Manchester the resources it needs’, he added.
The new additions will take the force’s strength to about 6,570, compared with 8,219 in 2010.
Greater Manchester Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes said: ‘The stark reality is that due to years of central government cuts the police simply cannot investigate every crime and have to take difficult decisions about where best to focus their time and resources.
‘They – and I – wish this were not necessary but unfortunately it is.’
Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell said: ‘It’s clear that the government’s cuts to police funding is having a real impact on the front line, making it extremely difficult for officers to do their jobs effectively and respond to certain types of crime.
‘This should be a wake-up call for ministers who should act to increase resources to tackle crime and disorder.’
A Home Office spokeswoman said police funding this financial year would rise by the greatest amount since 2010.
She said: ‘We recognise the impact crime has on victims and want offenders brought to justice.
‘We are committed to ensuring police forces have the resources they need to carry out their vital work.’