The Home Office, eyes wide shut

The Independent has published an interesting statistic:

NHS figures show the number of stab victims in England aged 10 to 16 rose by 63 per cent between 2011-12 and 2016-17 – four times the rate of increase in the population as a whole.

So this seems to leave London as an area that receives most of the publicity but is in fact, no different from anywhere else.

Yet Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary claims that the increase in stabbings has nothing to do with a decline in police numbers but is down to better collection of statistics. Of course all statistics are liable to collection differences but it seems incomprehensible that the collection of stabbing statistics has suddenly improved – it implies stabbings were overlooked before, which when they involve not only the police but also the ambulance service as well as a hospital, that is just not credible. If the Home Office was not collecting these statistics properly then the Home Secretary of the time should be held responsible  (even if, unaccountably, she got promotion).

The whole episode looks increasingly like another ‘fake news’ phenomenon. There is no evidence, but the dogma means that I’m convinced, so everyone else should be too. This is simply the Brexit syndrome in a different department.

Fortunately, the House of Commons Library has produced figures on police numbers – not just police officers but police staff as well [FTE = Full Time Equivalent]:

Not an awful decline one might think – until we realise that the population has increased by about 2 million 2008-2013:

And by 2016 the population of the UK had increased by another 1.5 million to 65.6 million, its largest ever. These are the most recent ONS figures.

Further evidence that Amber Rudd is telling us to look the other way is that for the first time since its inception, the London air ambulance service has been called to more crime incidents than road accidents.

Meanwhile the chart for the decline in Police Officers alone is striking:

Sure enough we find that the Police are often late in responding even when they do properly respond. They are too late and too few. There have been resignations of police officers through mental stress from rural areas, where there is no backup even if it were needed. Yet the government tries to suggest that this is because the Police are not somehow ‘efficient’ enough. What is an ‘efficient’ policeman? Perhaps they are the Essex police officers patrolling in Parliament Square though it is surely a long commute from Chelmsford.

The London Economic has a rather disturbing article written by an ex police officer in the form of an open letter to Amber Rudd:

Talking of figures Home Secretary…. Did you know that in the European league of officers as a percentage of each 100,000 of the population we (England and Wales) are sixth from the bottom? Below us are Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Estonia. Doesn’t make you heart swell with pride that we are so efficient that we can manage with so few..

He continues:

As we have already seen Home Secretary you are claiming that numbers are not a factor in the rise of street violence so let me throw this at you. The Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command reckon they solve about 90% of murders in London; though I’ve heard that officers believe that success rate is dropping and will fall to 75% because of the spike in murders is leaving them struggling.

Still 75% is pretty good eh? But, did your people tell you that over 75% of street stabbings remain unsolved. So, if you die you probably will get justice; if you receive life changing injuries and perhaps are traumatised for life, the odds are that your attacker will escape justice and will be free to probably strike again.

Of course, if you threw a murder squad with all its resources at a non-fatal stabbing you’d probably solve that too but, well, there are simply not enough officers to do that are there? So, the ‘stabber’ is free to stab again and all his gang colleagues will be aware of that as will those in other gangs thanks to gang social media. Thus, most will know that if you stab someone and they don’t die you’ll probably be free to stab again as you won’t be apprehended. Does that impact on the number of stabbings? Well if you agree it does, the conclusion surely is that police numbers do matter.

…. the violence began to increase as police numbers declined as did stop and search as did cuts in child services, youth services, social services, the probation service, special needs education together with children’s and young person’s mental health services.

Then when Amber Rudd blames drugs he counters

The fact is Home Secretary our borders are a shambles which is precisely why you are seeing the problems with cocaine.

It is on record that The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee has said that the UK Border Force was overworked and understaffed and has “not functioned properly for a number of years.” Nearly half of all Home Office immigration decisions are overturned on appeal.

The whole ‘serious violence strategy’ is based on £40m being diverted from somewhere else. Regrettably this strategy means nothing, for, as we’ve already discovered, this sort of strategy is much the same as statute law as a wish-list.

There used to be a Conservative Party poster which became quite infamous: it decried unemployment and simply declared that “Britain isn’t working”. But for the current Conservative government it is not now word play, it is true. The Home Secretary may protest that there is nothing to see but The Home Office certainly isn’t working, everything about it is broken.

It is yet another dysfunctional government department which is desperately in denial.

Britain deserves much, much better and if the electorate properly knew where money came from we wouldn’t be subject to this gross mismanagement, which is, essentially, all about money.


  1. Donald Liverpool -

    This is the best article I’ve read on here. We have to live under rule of law, and for everybody to have equal opportunities in a world where fear of crime is low and the risk of arbitrary behaviour, thefts etc is low. We also have to know the support is there if required when we self-police ( e.g. members of the public telling a child off for minor offences ).
    Less of the Brexit bashing though please. Do not forget the number one thing that shapes our landscape is agriculture, not nature, the number one item in the EU budget is subsidies to landowners, and the number one reason for the quotas of the Customs Union is to protect said landowners from competition. You can’t simultaneously claim to oppose these things that make us poorer and reduce opportunities and at the same time claim to be pro-EU.

  2. Peter May -

    Thank you for that.
    I do, though, still fear that Brexit was not openly explained – which is why I drew the comparison….
    I agree that agriculture is an EU subsidy that shouldn’t be the way it is but I’m reasonably sure that giving the subsidy to landowners rather than farmers is actually a UK supported decision. You can effectively buy the right to be a farmer…

  3. Andrew -

    Stabbing versus murder is an interesting comparison. You could add in rape, where a tiny minority of cases result in a conviction, yet the press focuses on men being wrongly prosecuted (which, horrendous as that is, is very rare) not on the justice system systematically failing almost all rape complainants, mostly women.

    A quibble on the statistics (don’t take this as support for the Home Office). On “Nearly half of all Home Office immigration decisions are overturned on appeal”, what the article actually says is “Nearly half of decisions *that go to appeal* in England and Wales are overturned”. As I understand it, the majority of decisions are not appealed.

    So how many decisions are made, and how many are appealed? Each case is of course a human life, and we should try our best to get them right, but it takes time and costs money, and there will be always be mistakes in any system devised by humans. You might hope that the system will recognize that, and allow for meaningful review of decisions before an appeal is needed.

    So what would be a tolerable error rate? 1 in a hundred? 1 in a thousand? 1 in a million? And what would be an acceptable level of decisions being appealed, and of decisions being overturned on appeal?

    Do we expect only the most obvious errors to be appealed, so might expect a small number of appeals, of which 90% are allowed? Or do we encourage appeals in even the most unlikely cases, so might expect lots of appeals, only 10% of which are allowed?

    Or perhaps we should expect appeals in cases where there is a reasonable prospect of success, say 50% of the time? So is it a surprise when 50% of the appeals are allowed?

  4. Peter May -

    Yes – you are quite right about the appeal overturning. Apologies what I wrote wasn’t correct but in my defence, at least I included the link!
    I cannot actually find any figures on how many decisions are appealed. I’d presume most decisions are appealed if you are unhappy with that first decision.
    We can though certainly say that if the number of successful appeals is increasing -it is- then by definition the initial decision making is getting worse.

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