Crime rises in county,but public can haveconfidence in police

Date: Friday 21st December 2018

CRIME across Cumbria is up by 28 per cent this year despite the constabulary being classed as one of the most effective in the country.

A police and crime commissioner conference heard that the number of reported crimes had gone up by around 2,500, to nearly 34,000, while police have been called to 96,552 incidents in 2018.

Chief Superintendent Rob O’Connor confirmed to police and crime commissioner Peter McCall that the figures were in line with the level of crime nationally. The conference also heard there is an expectation that hate crime could increase across the county when the UK leaves the EU in March.

Supt O’Connor said: “The statistics show an increase in crime and an increase in violent crime. In response to this we are shifting from territorial policing to where demand on crime is growing, such as cyber crime.

“We are seeing a change around the use of technology making crimes more complex and more of officers’ time is used up to deal with them. We are spending more on front-line policing than any other force and that puts us in a good place.”

The force has so far had 143,184 calls from the public this year, of which 58,574 were classed as emergency. A large part of that number includes calls for getting things like a crime reference number for insurance purposes.

The meeting heard how the control room at Carleton Hall headquarters has more officers than before as a way to help offset some of the pressures on front-line services. This has resulted in 35 per cent of calls being dealt with in the control room — up five per cent — while in a quarter of all calls advice is given direct by an officer.

Despite the force going over budget by £400,000 in the first half of the 2018-19 financial year, largely through investing in 25 new police officers, Mr McCall stated that part of the problem is showing how the public can have improved confidence in the force.

Supt O’Connor said that despite a lot being put out in the media about the work of the police, the issue of confidence remained a problem.

Sixty per cent of all Cumbria officers, totalling 691, are involved in visible front-line policing while another 32 per cent (373) are classed as front-line, with 84 designated in operational or business supporting roles.

Mr McCall said: “Just half of all police can be in uniform. Because others are plain clothed and involved with proactively stopping crime, folk won’t realise this. It is important they don’t, but it does cause a problem when people feel their are not as many police on the beat.

“But I would rather have these officers preventing crime rather than just making people safe by going around needlessly in uniform.”

The meeting also heard about the positive impact the recent intake of officers have had and Mr McCall stated he “had concerns only four in each area would make a difference [but] its given their team real teeth to go and do real robust policing” while helping “relieve the workload” of other officers.

The meeting also discussed proposals to change how the force approaches parish councils. Sending officers to every parish meeting was “unrealistic” and sending out written updates “not very effective as they can be out of date”. It was decided to have regular conferences with all parish councils in a particular district.