UK: Police Letting Suspects Go And ‘Hoping For The Best’

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Police are “letting [suspects] off with a warning and hoping for the best” because they can’t cope with the scale of the crime problem, a senior officer has warned.

Since 2010, the number of custody cells has dropped by as much as 50 per cent, with further cuts planned to the suites where suspects are taken after they are picked up by police.

In a similar timeframe, the number of arrests saw a dramatic fall from 1.5 million in 2006/2007 to 780,000 in the year to March  — despite large increases in recorded crime.

The reduction in custody cell numbers has seen Gloucestershire left with just one suite to cover the whole county, whilst several other counties including Cambridgeshire and Nottinghamshire have just two each.

As a result, driving a suspect to the nearest custody suite and back to the town where the arrest took place can take as long as four hours, according to Police Federation chairman Steve White, who said the cutbacks have led to “a change in the mindset of many officers not to arrest unless they absolutely have to”.

White told The Telegraph: “What is going through their mind is that ‘this person needs arresting, but there is no one left on the ground, is there going to be something else more pressing that I might have to deal with?

“So what they are doing is letting someone off with a warning and hoping for the best. Hoping for the best that person does not go on to do something terrible,” added White.

Former Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett asked why Chancellor Philip Hammond had failed to make available in his Budget the additional funds required to keep custody suites open.

“Scrapping custody suites costs more in the long-term because you have to transport people around, while taking police off frontline duties,” he said.

“Arrests are bound to tumble because police know that in making an arrest they are taking themselves out of action.”

Police have blamed budget cuts for the plummeting number of arrests in Britain, with the Metropolitan Police having said cutbacks mean they can no longer look into many “low level” crimes.

But, with the number of arrests over “hateful” comments posted online rising as much as 877 per cent in some parts of England, the Met boasting of having more than 900 specialist “hate crime” investigators, and officers touring mosques to tell worshippers to report any perceived slights to their community, people have questioned whether forces are spending their resources wisely.

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