The Government’s Police Uplift Programme may have successfully recruited an extra 20,000 officers, but a lack of experience means delays in solving crimes are likely to persist for some time.
Police are taking longer than before to investigate crimes in the UK despite recruiting 20,000 extra officers – with a lack of experience being blamed.
Statistics show that crime was down by just under eight percent over the 12 months to March compared to the same period ending last September, excluding fraud and computer misuse.
According to the latest Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) – which tends to measure overall trends better than police-recorded statistics because it is unaffected by changes in practice or reporting levels – the overall tally is also down by just under 22 percent relative to the same period pre-pandemic.
Despite this falling caseload, Home Office statistics show the average time taken between the date a crime was recorded and an outcome was assigned increased by two days over the year to 14 days – the longest investigation window since 2016.
The recent State of Policing report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) suggested performance was being hindered by a combination of factors including resource pressures and increased complexity of crimes.
It also noted that recruitment drives over the past decade, alongside resulting in a peak of 149,500 officers currently on the streets, have also led to a more inexperienced workforce.
No suspect being identified is consistently the most common reason for a case being closed. Over the year to March 2022, this was the outcome of 36.7 percent of all cases. Over the past year, this grew to 39.3 percent – just under two in five.
The proportion of those resulting in a charge or summons was just 5.7 percent, although this does mark a slight increase on the 5.5 percent of last year. The number of days taken to achieve such outcomes varies significantly depending on the type of offence.
For many of the most common crimes, this timeframe has grown longer over the past year. Investigations into cases of violence against the person take two days longer on average than they did in the 12 months to March 2022, and criminal damage and arson an extra four days.
Although the figure went up for sexual offences as a whole – by ten days to 72 – for rape specifically the time taken to reach a charge or summons fell from 467 to 421.