Violent crime is a recurring theme within our news and although Hampshire is still a very safe place, the news approximately 2 week’s ago of the sentencing of 4 young men from Farnborough, who were jailed for the murder of Richard Hardy in Farnborough earlier this year, brings home the fact that violent crime can affect all communities.
The Government have announced that council tax is set to rise as part of a £700 million police funding increase, which will be announced formally very soon. £200 million of this is expected to come directly from the treasury.
This increase in police funding is the Governments response to the warnings from police forces that the unacceptable rise in violent crime is a result of the reduction in funding over many years, which has had a drastic effect on the number of officers patrolling our streets.
Like many headlines, the news captures the imaginations of all residents who will hope that they will see extra officers on the streets with the resultant reduction in crime. However, the reality is that it will not be quite as simple; true, there will be an increase, some of which will be seen locally, however, much of the cash will be rightfully targeted in the communities where gang violence and the related violent crime are happening.
It is anticipated that council tax bills will rise by up to £24 a year for each household in England and Wales, which in real terms is quite a lot. Already in Rushmoor, council tax rose last year where the precept was increased to provide the policing service that residents should expect, however, for some, it might be seen as a relatively small amount to help reduce the rise in violent crime.
To help put things into perspective, the cuts since the Conservative party has been in government (2010) have led to a reduction in 20,000 officers nationwide.
The Government have often told Chief Police officers and Police Crime Commissioner’s to stop blaming the reduction in funding on the increase in crime and to find ways of tackling crime more efficiently with a reduced budget, so now, the pressure will shift from that placed on the Government to the police, who will now need to deliver the results that will be expected.
The fact that crime figures took time to rise will mean that any reduction will also take time and in reality, it may take longer. This is because the increased freedoms those criminals had with less presence of police officers, means that more people have become involved and certain crimes have become more embedded within certain areas.
To reverse this trend will take time because for some people, especially the young persons who are mainly involved in violent crime, to instil change in their way of life will be hard.
Any increase in policing will help to deter or stop the younger generation from becoming involved in crime in the first place and this is probably where the greater change will occur.
But it is not just about more police officers and increased patrols. It is also about fragmented communities and youths who come from difficult or deprived backgrounds, who feel a need to `belong`, where they are most at risk from becoming involved in violent crime.
Therefore there is an equal need to increase the support infrastructure for families who need assistance and the provision of youth services who can engage with youths on the streets and find out the problems they face and try to deal with these.
The problem needs funding and resourcing at many levels to work properly, so there is a plan and the joint working of various organisations, but for now, any increase in funding which will lead to more officers on the streets, is welcome.