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Police bosses have 'eye off the ball' on detecting crime says Chief

Police bosses have taken their ‘eye off the ball’ on detecting crime and officers need to focus on ‘catching the bad people’, new Chief Inspector says

  • The Chief Inspector of Constabulary said crime detection must be improved
  • The newly appointed Andy Cooke urged officers to ‘catch more criminals’
  • Only 5.8% of crimes in England and Wales led to summons or a charge in 2021

Police chiefs have taken their ‘eye off the ball’ on crime detection, according to the new Chief Inspector of Constabulary.

Andy Cooke urged officers not to be nervous of making arrests even if it was not seen as ‘the right thing to do’ at the time, saying they needed to get out and catch more criminals.

The former Merseyside Police chief said the top ranks needed to focus on what the public expected – ‘catch the bad people and place them before the criminal justice system’.

Just 5.8 per cent of crimes in England and Wales resulted in a summons or a suspect being charged in 2021.

Newly appointed Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke (pictured) said police chiefs need to focus on crime detection and officers should not be afraid to make arrests

Ex-Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Tom Winsor (pictured) said police must ‘rebuild public trust’ just before he left the role

Mr Cooke has called for a return to targets to boost the rate of crimes being solved. ‘There has been an element of taking the eye off the ball in relation to detection’, he said.

‘It is only right that the public should expect that policing is arresting the right people, is charging the right people and it’s reducing crime where necessary and driving that performance is really important.

‘The detection rates of all crimes are too low, the rates of burglary in a dwelling too low, the rates of car crime detections are too low, you name it.’

He suggested forces should have ‘performance measures’ set locally to benchmark the volume of cases being solved. He added: ‘People need to understand what is important to our communities and people need to be measured against what the requirement is to succeed. It needs to be qualitative as well as quantitative targets, it needs to be driving police in the right way to keep our communities safest.’

Mr Cooke, who was appointed by Home Secretary Priti Patel in April, said: ‘The public expect police to be proactive and doing all they can to reduce crime in their areas.’

He said the recruitment of 20,000 officers was an opportunity to make this happen: ‘I don’t expect forces to have bobbies walking up and down high streets and local estates every minute of the day but the balance needs to be there.

‘Reassurance isn’t a police vehicle whizzing through the streets. Reassurance is knowing there is someone there locally who is looking after your local neighbourhood…’

He argued that officers should ‘never be nervous’ about making an arrest: ‘When people need arresting, they should be arrested. Police officers shouldn’t shy away from that.

‘I’m not saying they do, but at times arrest is not always seen as the right thing…’

He added: ‘Policing shouldn’t take the easiest option, it should take the right option, if that option is to arrest they should be arresting people.’

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