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Victims of High-harm Crime in Surrey Failed by Low Rate of ‘Positive Outcome’

Published on: 26 Nov, 2020
Updated on: 28 Nov, 2020

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

Almost 87% of high-harm crimes recorded in Surrey fail to result in satisfactory action against the suspected perpetrator.

High-harm covers serious sexual offences, violent domestic abuse, child abuse and hate crime.

The percentage of the county’s recorded high-harm crimes that led to a positive outcome has halved in the past five years, to 13.2% for the year to date.

A positive outcome is when a suspected crime ends up in court, regardless of the verdict, or is dealt with by a penalty notice, caution, or community resolution.

Charlotte Kneer, chief executive of Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid, a refuge in East Surrey for women and children fleeing severe domestic abuse, said: “I am saddened by this figure.

“I suspect the reason is that police are fighting exceptionally hard against a backdrop of huge cuts from national government. It is a clear indication more resources need to be put into tackling these high-harm crimes.

“It is particularly disappointing to hear this on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.”

David Munro

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Munro agreed the low level was a “great concern”.

The figure was 26.5% in 2015-2016 and has declined every year since, most drastically to 19.5% in 2017-2018, then 17.5% in 2018-2019.

Tandridge District Cllr Bob Milton (Con, Chaldon), who sits on the county panel holding the PCC to account, yesterday (November 24) refused to sign a recommendation to note progress on the Police and Crime Plan when the positive outcome rates were “so poor”.

The PCC panel requested a detailed report about how improvements will be made.

“I’m very concerned,” said Waverley Deputy Mayor, Cllr John Robini (Lib Dem, Haslemere Critchmere and Shottermill). “We all know in these Covid times, publicity says these crimes against vulnerable people have increased.”

Reported domestic abuse incidents peaked in May at the height of the first lockdown, with 1,509 offences reported compared to 1,292 in May 2019 (a rise of 16.8%).

Mr Munro told the panel: “I have never concealed and I still don’t, that I’m not happy and neither is the force with the clear-up rate.

“The police are working very hard indeed and I assure you are not at all complacent.”

He said although the rate was too low, it did compare favourably with other forces across the country.

“There are considerable efforts being made, problem-solving teams being formed,” he added.

Cllr Andrew Povey

The panel’s concerns were first raised county Cllr Dr Andrew Povey (Con, Cranleigh & Ewhurst).

Mr Munro said: “For the first three years of my tour we were suffering cut after cut after cut. Your government, Dr Povey, imposed that and it will take a long time to recover.”

Cllr Povey said: “I think I have to remind the commissioner it was his government at the time he stood.”

Mr Munro, a Conservative in 2016 but now an independent, replied: “It certainly was but thank goodness, unlike yourself, Dr Povey, I now have the freedom to speak my mind and I shall take advantage of it.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spending review today (November 25) promised an additional £400 million to help recruit 20,000 additional police officers nationally by 2023, with 6,000 new officers in 2021-22.

The BBC’s Reality Check team said adding 20,000 police officers will return total staffing levels to the 143,000 prior to the 2010 election when the Conservatives came to power.

Surrey’s positive outcome rate for all recorded crimes overall was 14% for August 2019 till July 2020 (10,348 out of 73,893 crimes).

The rate was 14.6% for August 2018 till July 2019 (11,120 out of 76,336 crimes). It did rise between January and May 2020 but fell again.

One of the lowest levels of crime recorded in Surrey was in April this year, due to national lockdown, and crimes recorded for the 12 months to July 2020 were down 3.2% on the previous year.

But the volume of crime steadily increased and returned to normal over the months that followed.

Surrey had the sixth-lowest crime rate (64.5 per 1,000 population) across England and Wales in March 2020, according to ONS figures.

Martin Giles will be interviewing Guildford’s police borough commander next week (w/e December 5). Please check back to view.

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test 2 Responses to Victims of High-harm Crime in Surrey Failed by Low Rate of ‘Positive Outcome’

  1. Maurice Bethell Reply

    November 26, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    It is very easy to hide behind the skirts of “cuts”.

    But surely it is time for the County Councillors to say enough is enough. The depreciating results published show that drastic change is due at the top of the chain, both in senior police officers and in the police and crime commissioner.

    Do we need a crime commissioner or is it just job for the boys?

    These results are just simply nowhere near good enough.

  2. Paul Kennedy Reply

    November 26, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    The halving of positive outcomes for high impact crimes during the term of the current police commissioner is very worrying, and domestic abuse and other charities are right to raise concerns.

    This isn’t just down to police cuts. Many of the problems are contributed to by chaos in the courts, going back well before the pandemic, which makes it harder to achieve and enforce convictions and court orders.

    Surrey County Council’s cuts and poor performance in the support services for: vulnerable people, adult social care, children’s services (including closures of children’s centres), youth, addiction, mental health and sexual health services, have also contributed.

    The police and crime commissioner is right to blame Conservative policies, but he needs to acknowledge that he was elected as a Conservative and remained a Conservative, implementing Conservative policies, for at least the first 3 1/2 years of his term.

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