Police must restore public confidence by solving more crimes, says Home Office

James Cleverly, the Home Secretary, chairs his first meeting of the National Policing Board
James Cleverly led the calls with rates for solving crimes described as 'far too low' and inconsistent between forces - James Manning/PA
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Police chiefs have been ordered to prioritise solving more crimes this year in an effort to restore public confidence after the collapse in charging rates.

The demand was made by James Cleverly, the Home Secretary, as he chaired his first meeting of the National Policing Board, and Chris Philp, the policing minister, who said the rates for solving crimes were “far too low” and inconsistent between forces.

“Solving more crimes has to be a focus this year,” said Mr Philp. Charging rates have fallen from 15.5 per cent to 5.5 per cent since 2016.

Mr Cleverly told police chiefs the public felt more visible crimes such as shoplifting and theft were being missed. He made clear that police must respond to this issue.

“Restoring confidence in “core policing” and the police response to crime was made clear as a priority,” said a Home Office source.

“The Home Secretary recognised that how police investigate crimes is often how people’s perceptions of police are defined.”

Police using evidence from road users

It came as Home Office figures revealed on Wednesday that citizen detectives with dashboard cameras have fueled record numbers of fixed penalties being issued to motorists for speeding, careless or dangerous driving.

Police are increasingly using video footage and evidence supplied by other road users to prosecute motorists for bad driving, according to the AA.

It has contributed to a 25 per cent rise in fixed penalty notices or prosecutions of motorists in the past two years from 2.37 million to 2.95 million in 2022, the last year for which figures are available.

The biggest increase was in the number of motorists caught speeding, which rose from just over two million to 2.5 million offences in two years.

Jack Cousens, the AA’s head of roads policy, said: “With the rise of dashcams and riders wearing cameras, drivers behaving badly should beware that someone is always watching. Police forces are utilising the footage to hold drivers to account and using the film as evidence to prosecute offenders.

“Police owned and private cameras are a useful tool in catching bad driving in the act, but we do not want to see an overreliance on technology. The best way to deter illegal driving behaviours is to increase the number of traffic officers and visible presence on our roads.”

Drivers turned into DIY law enforcers

There was a 30 per cent increase last year in the number of videos of dangerous driving submitted to the police by the public to 33,500 via the national dash cam safety portal. About 70 per cent of the submissions lead to police action, ranging from warning letters to penalty points and prosecutions

Most of the footage comes from dashcams, with many cyclists also uploading helmet cam footage, and appears to be increasing public awareness of the risks from offences such as speeding or using a mobile phone at the wheel.

The portal for uploading videos was launched in 2018 by the dashcam firm Nextbase, helping turn drivers into DIY law enforcers. Also known widely as Operation Snap, the system is used by most police forces in England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland are considering implementing the system but are yet to do so.

Meanwhile, tougher laws on using a handheld mobile phone behind the wheel saw the number of drivers prosecuted for doing so rise by 93 per cent between 2021 and 2022 from 19,600 to 37,900.

Changes in the Highway Code in January 2022 that introduced a hierarchy of road users and better protections for pedestrians caused offences for neglecting pedestrian rights and traffic signs to increase by a third compared with 2021.

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