Annual figures indicate ‘dramatic collapse’ in confidence in criminal justice system, says Labour
Almost 1.5 million victims of crime in England and Wales have decided not to pursue their cases, feeding concern that public confidence in the criminal justice system has collapsed.
Home Office figures unearthed by Labour show there were 1,411,650 victims who did not support continuing action after they had reported a crime in the year to March 2022.
The figures come after the police’s official inspectorate said that a failure to stop thieves and burglars threatens police’s “bond of trust” with the public.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said the figures show a dramatic collapse in confidence in the criminal justice system.
“Victims are being let down and criminals are getting off scot-free.
“Instead of a plan to increase prosecutions, the Conservative leadership candidates are just focusing on headlines and gimmicks.
“Rather than cutting neighbourhood police, Labour would restore neighbourhood policing to our streets to keep communities safe,” she said.
Andy Cooke, the chief inspector of constabulary, warned after the publication of a damning report on Thursday that “the public is likely to lose confidence in forces’ ability to keep them safe”.
He told Sky News that forces had “a lot of inexperience at the moment”, with 31% of officers having completed under five years of service.
He added that police forces spent a significant amount of time dealing with issues that would previously have been dealt with by “other parts of the system”, such as mental health issues.
Labour’s analysis examined official government data released last month that showed the outcomes assigned to offences recorded in the year to March 2021 and year to March 2022.
More than 900,000 victims of violence, over 95,000 victims of criminal damage, and over 75,000 victims of sexual offences have given up hope of seeing a conviction, the party said.
In 1.1m of those 1.4m cases closed because a victim no longer wanting to pursue a case, a suspect had been identified by police. However, the number of cases where a suspect was not identified has also increased by 30% on the previous year.
In 2015, just over 8% of investigations collapsed due to victims dropping out. Yet according to the latest figures, that proportion has increased to more than 26%.
The Conservatives have promised to bring forward a victims bill in consecutive manifestos. After it was raised in the latest Queen’s speech, it is still in draft form.
So far, 68% of the 20,000 officers promised by Boris Johnson
to replace those lost during Conservative cuts have been recruited.
Liz Truss, who is the current favourite to become prime minister following the resignation of Johnson
, has pledged a 20% reduction in serious offences such as homicide, and a similar cut in other key crimes including burglary, by the time of the next election. She has also called for league tables for police forces, which has concerned chief constables.
Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, has sought to woo Tory party members concerned by so-called culture wars by calling for police to focus fewer resources on those causing offence on social media.
A government spokesperson said: “Through our rape review action plan, we are working to make sure the system works better. We are recruiting more sexual violence advisers, 20,000 additional police officers, rolling out prerecorded evidence faster, improving collaboration between the police and Crown Prosecution Service and boosting funding for victim support services to a minimum £440m over the next three years.”