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Crime up, police budgets down: Top cop slams cuts as witness tells of ‘15-minute wait to get through to 999’

PUBLISHED: 16:33 16 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:05 30 October 2017

Hackney has lost 1 in 4 of its officers since 2010.

Hackney has lost 1 in 4 of its officers since 2010.

Archant

Witnesses to a stabbing, a string of burglaries and a shop raid in Hackney say they no longer feel safe – and are worried about further cuts to the police budget.

Figures show crime is up nearly 12pc in Hackney to August 2017. Yet despite police cuts of £600million since 2012, the government says a further £400m of savings must be made by 2021.

David Perkins spent 15 minutes trying to get through to a 999 emergency call handler while his neighbour’s home in Wenlock Road, Hoxton, was being burgled. Police only came out after six hours, by which time the culprits had made off.

After three burglaries down his street in the space of three days and several cars being broken into – as well as seeing first hand a gang in balaclavas throwing rocks as they raided the Co-op in New North Road – he no longer feels safe.

Mr Perkins told the Gazette he is shocked at the thought of further cuts.

“I’ve lived in the area 15 years and never experienced this,” he said. “Crime is no longer something that’s in the news – it’s on my doorstep.

“Living in between three break-ins on the ground floor with my family, I’m extremely concerned at crime escalation – and shocked at the response time from the police.”

Another neighbour, who does not wish to be named, said she feels less safe now than a year ago. After hearing the piercing screams of a woman being stabbed outside her bedroom window in Mortimer Road, De Beauvoir, she says she insists on getting a taxi home to her front door if returning after dark.

Annual crime figures to August 2017 show an 11.8pc increase in crime. It comes after Sadiq Khan last week urged the government to “properly fund the police service” to “keep Londoners safe”.

Insp Ian Simpkins told the Gazette 15 minutes would be “excessively long and very unusual” to wait for a 999 call.

“You would need an enormous spike in demand for that to happen,” he said, but added the service – which is manned by civilian officers and police staff – is “under pressure at the moment”.

“They are struggling and often have to draft people in to fill the demand,” he said.

“What we are seeing now is an unwelcome reversal to the best part of a decade of crime reduction.

“Clearly there are resourcing pressures at the moment. Further cuts would make it more difficult to deliver quality policing – that’s fairly uncontentious.

“It’s disingenuous to suggest we can suffer further cuts and perform at the level we are performing now, and clearly some people aren’t happy with that level.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Crimes traditionally measured by the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales have fallen by well over a third since 2010 but we are sensitive to the pressures the police are under. That is why ministers have begun a programme of engagement with forces to better understand the demands they face and how these can best be managed.

“There is more money and more officers for each Londoner than anywhere else in the country. The government has protected overall police spending in real terms since the 2015 spending review, and has announced additional funding for counter-terrorism policing.”

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