Since the lockdown was announced on 23d March there was a rapid and notable decrease in crime. Criminals found it hard to move around without being seen with the majority of the country being at home, resulting in burglaries all but dried stopped and other crime, such as theft and breaks to sheds and out-buildings greatly reduced.
I recently wrote about this change which coincided with the demand on police services dropping significantly too, where the general lack of movement of people meant that routine calls to road traffic incidents, disputes and public order offences practically stopped.
During the lockdown period, officers have been able to concentrate on developing intelligence on criminals and pro-actively target them, where there have been some good results.
The most common comment from officers following the years of austerity, was how they could no longer be pro-active and how this changed the mindset of criminals, who felt they were less likely to get caught.
The increase in pro-active work has changed turned the tide, where criminals can now expect to be seen and stopped by a police patrol, or those who operate from a home, such as drug dealing, have become a target of robust action through search warrants.
Prevention is always better than cure, both in terms of time and resources, which equates to the number of crimes and cost in real terms.
Prevention is not simply measured by the public taking precautions against crime and police patrols; it is also about criminals having the fear that they will be caught and therefore operating less frequently and for those who are arrested, facing sanctions such as prison, taking them out of the picture for a while.
Lockdown has now gone through two stages of easing, and providing there is no increased risk to health, it will ease further, where life will become more normal.
I am sure many of you will have noticed how busy our streets have become and with primary schools returning this week and non-essential shops preparing to re-open from mid-June, the change in pace will be rapid.
This change will naturally reverse the trend that has been seen in the demand on police services, which has already increased.
It will be important for police forces to re-focus as the country comes out of lockdown and retain as much as possible the pro-active work that has been achieved, which has had huge benefits to our communities.
A reduction in crime statistics is not just about numbers, it is about victims and the exploitation of the most vulnerable people in our communities, who suffer at the hands of criminals who are only interested in their own gain and not the devastation left in their wake.
Police forces have seen the benefits of a more pro-active style of policing which was sorely lacking during austerity and there will be a keenness to hold onto this.
The increased officer numbers being recruited over the next three years will make it easier to sustain this style of policing and new recruits will be trained during a period of increased pro-active policing, which should translate in their policing style reflecting this approach, rather than being mostly reactive, which has been the case for too long under austerity.
You can keep up to date with the latest government advice during COVID-19 and our advice to keep you and your family safe.
PC 1860 Mark Ranola.
Yateley Police Office.