Minsters should launch a major recruitment drive to hire 19,000 officers to restore neighbourhood policing, an influential think tank has urged.
In a report welcomed by the Home Secretary and endorsed by seven Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), Onward called for more visible policing to tackle anti-social behaviour.
It found that despite the Government successfully recruiting 20,000 additional police officers, the number dedicated to neighbourhood policing is 10 per cent lower than in 2012.
Police community support officer (PCSO) numbers have also nearly halved, Onward said, and special constables have fallen by two-thirds over the same period.
Yet antisocial behaviour, theft and drug offences remain high – and the research suggests the public does not feel safer despite overall crime levels falling.
In a report welcomed by the Home Secretary and endorsed by seven Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), influential think tank Onward called for more visible policing to tackle anti-social behaviour
The ‘Back to Basics’ report urges the Government to launch a new Neighbourhood Policing Uplift Programme to tackle community crimes.
It recommends hiring 3,000 neighbourhood police officers, 10,000 PCSOs and 6,000 special constables over the next five years – at a cost of around £600 million a year.
Onward proposes that it could be paid for by using a ring-fenced one-off council tax increase.
The think tank said it would cost taxpayers on average 45p a week in return for two new local support officers in their neighbourhood.
The report also calls for ‘pop up’ police stations in disused high street premises, neighbourhood wardens in town centres to prevent low-level crime, and greater use of facial recognition technology.
The report found that despite the Government successfully recruiting 20,000 additional police officers, the number dedicated to neighbourhood policing is 10 per cent lower than in 2012 (File image)
Home Secretary James Cleverly said: ‘Under this Government violent crime and burglary are down by over a half since 2010, reoffending has fallen and the public are safer.
‘But we need to do more to ensure people feel safer too – it is no consolation to a victim of crime to be told that crime is falling overall.
‘Onward is spot on in recognising that visible, neighbourhood policing is key to this. Our Antisocial Behaviour Plan is helping drive down the crimes that blight our communities.
‘We have secured an agreement from police to follow all reasonable lines of enquiry as the public would rightly expect, and I have been clear that officers should be focusing on core policing on the beat and visible in their areas.
‘Onward have focused their report on an area of policing that deserves attention – and one that I am absolutely committed to. Whilst we may not support each and every one of their proposals, I welcome the thinking that Onward have provoked and would encourage policing to read it carefully.’
Callum Newton, senior researcher at Onward, added: ‘Crime is falling to record levels across the country, yet many people still feel unsafe in their communities. The decline of neighbourhood policing has created a vacuum for criminals in some of Britain’s most disadvantaged areas.
‘The Government cannot allow this to continue. Government and Chief Constables should work together to introduce a new Neighbourhood Policing Uplift Programme designed to combat crime, build trust and re-establish police presence on Britain’s streets.