By Calvin at 14:38 GMT, 2 weeks ago
The following information comes from an article published in The Telegraph on 14 June 2016. I could kick myself for missing it, but I’m glad I’ve found it now and can bring it to your attention.
The article in the science section of the paper informed us that “Bobbies on the beat really do prevent serious crime and police could cut thousands of assaults each year simply by sending officers to problem areas for just 21 minutes a day”
This claim was based on research conducted over 12 months in Peterborough by Cambridge University.
The report tells us that “Cambridgeshire Constabulary allocated just two extra police community support officers (PCSOs) to 34 crime hotspots around Peterborough to see if their presence could make a difference.
“They found there was a substantial drop in crime in those areas, which if reflected across the city would have prevented 86 assaults a year, six burglaries, or six sex crimes. If extrapolated to all Britain’s 69 cities, the extra officers could have prevented thousands of crimes.”
Sounds very promising, doesn’t it and confirms the notion that targeted policing of places where crime is high can make a real difference. Importantly though this also means that if you live in an area where crime is a rare occurrence then you should not expect to see a PC or PCSO on the beat anytime soon.
The newspaper report also tells us that “Crime experts [those authoring the report and commenting upon it]’ said the evidence was now ‘indisputable’ that officers on the beat stop crime even if they do not have full police powers, suggesting that the probability of encountering an officer is more important than the powers that officer has, and that the frequency and duration of proactive patrolling deserves far more attention”
The experiment revealed 39% fewer crime incidents and 20 per cent fewer 999 emergency calls per hotspot compared with non-patrolled high crime areas. It also seems that it is the number of visits to each hot spot that matters rather than the total minutes present per visit.
Importantly, the costing strongly supports this type of hotspot policing since the costs of employing the two extra PCSOs used during the experiment was more than met by the money saved from court appearances and jail time. The researchers calculated that for every £10 spent on extra policing, £56 would be saved in prison costs alone.
Whilst the evaluation and the confirmation of the effectiveness of hotspot policing are welcomed the reader should not suppose this had not already been spotted by your professional police service many years ago. Even back in my time (in the 1990s) we would target known burglary hotspots and measure the success of our attendance – it always brought the crime figures down.