'People in Hackney don't report crime because police numbers are so low,' claims campaigner
PUBLISHED: 15:15 16 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:15 16 November 2017
Crimes are going unreported because victims and witnesses know police don't have the resources to investigate them, a community campaigner has claimed.
It comes in the wake of a plea by the town hall for Whitehall to reverse swingeing police cuts that have seen one in four officers taken off Hackney’s streets since 2010.
Caroline Bolam has been lobbying neighbours around Stoke Newington after witnessing an increase in anti-social behaviour, particularly phone snatches, over the summer.
She also attends her ward forum meetings with the local police teams and says one of the main concerns is the lack of response from police over “minor” crimes.
Town hall crime chief Cllr Caroline Selman said the claims showed the strain the Met was under, and blamed the police cuts.
Launching Hackney Council’s Foot the Bill campaign last month, she and mayor Phil Glanville wrote to home secretary Amber Rudd and chancellor Philip Hammond saying: “Government platitudes about being more efficient do nothing to address the reality on the ground or the rapidly growing concerns among our residents and businesses.”
Ms Bolam told the Gazette this week: “I’m a lecturer and in the summer I was at home watching this anti-social behaviour, all the time.
“It really frustrated me that no one seemed to want to do anything. I live opposite Butterfield Green and it’s kids who don’t have anything to do and they’ll nick people’s phones.
“If you phone the ward officer, he is good at cycling around but it’s definitely got worse. I’ve tried on a number of occasions to phone 101 and it doesn’t work.
“I’ve never actually got through. It gives you a message saying: ‘Do you know can report it online?’ and when you do that it says to call 101.
“Residents think it’s harder to get to police unless you call 999, and 999 is under a lot of pressure.”
She added: “It’s something we are very aware of. People feel they don’t want to judge something a crime that’s not. The mechanisms with which you could inform police without looking like you are calling for an emergency are a good thing. But they have to work.
“People think it’s really bad and police can’t do anything. But I tell them: ‘Not if you don’t tell them!’
“They need to have the resources to back it up. They need to have the resources to give people a sense that reporting is worth it.”
One fear about under-reporting of crimes is that artificially low figures could help the government argue police don’t need more resources than they already have.
The letter the ministers explained the town hall was doing all it could to support police but it was no substitute for having the officers to keep people safe.
Cllr Selman said: “We would always urge residents to continue to report crimes so the police are aware of them and can investigate, but experiences like Caroline’s show the impact the strain on police resources is having on residents.
“The police simply do not have the resources they need, and the blame for this lies squarely with the government. They need to abandon their plans for further cuts and to fund our police properly.”
The town hall is encouraging people to write, as Cllr Selman has done, to Ms Rudd, so she is aware of the impact the cuts are having.
Last month the Gazette reported how one man spent 15 minutes trying to get through to 999 operators while a neighbour’s home was burgled. Insp Ian Simpkins admitted the service was under pressure thanks to cuts.
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