When did the police stop policing?

By: Callum McGoldrick, researcher

According to the Office of National Statistics, 430,104 shoplifting offences were committed last year, a rise of 37 per cent from last year and the highest level on record. When asked about shoplifting on LBC News last week, Archie Norman, the chairman for Marks & Spencer, commented:

“I think [shoplifting] is a problem. I think I have said before, but it's a worldwide problem coming out of the pandemic. It's happened everywhere”.

Although M&S has managed to counteract this rise in shoplifting with increased spending on CCTV and security, Mr Norman’s glumly admitted:

"We get very little help from the police and we have to accept that police are not interested in this sort of crime anymore”.

Here’s the head of a major retailer stating clearly that the police simply do not care about shoplifting. The statistics back his point up as under 40 per cent of shoplifting reports are attended by the police, with the Home Secretary himself having to step in to insist that the police stop treating it as a minor crime. Naturally, this has been met with resistance by police chiefs who call responding to more shoplifting cases “not realistic”.

Shoplifting isn’t the only crime that the police no longer seem to care about. Knife crime is up by 7 per cent nationally while in big cities like London, there are close to 40 blade offences being committed per day. Anti-social behaviour is also being ignored, with two million police reports of anti-social behaviour incidents not being responded to. And who can forget the unwillingness of the police to deal with pro-Hamas protestors?

So if the police aren’t responding to crimes and open support for terrorists as they should, what are they doing?

Focusing on ‘hate crimes’ and even ‘non-crime’ hate incidents seems to have become a major concern for the police, with them recording over 120,000 of these so-called “non-crime” hate incidents between 2018-22. This reality has become worse in Scotland where Police Scotland are being forced to pay overtime to control room staff as they clean up the mess made by the SNP’s newest hate crime legislation. Legislation that taxpayers were forced to cough up £400k for a publicity campaign to begin with. If you want a reminder as to how much police overtime can cost taxpayers, our investigation revealed a bill of £1 billion since 2020.

To make matters worse, the TaxPayers’ Alliance found the police had spent £66,000 on LGBT shoelaces, flags, and cars draped in the colours of the LGBT flag. Cars which the National Police Chiefs’ Council has previously remarked act as ‘hate-crime cars’ that encourage people to report incidents of ‘hate’ on social media.

Succinctly put, British law enforcement is more interested in policing innocent individuals and wasting money on virtue-signalling than protecting the public from crime. The most popular term for this is ‘two-tiered policing’, but a better term for this paradoxical reality is anarcho-tyranny. This is what writer Louise Perry describes as “a system of government that fails to protect its citizens from violence, while simultaneously persecuting conduct that would typically be regarded as innocent.”

Feelings of intimidation and unfriendliness due to anti-social behaviour are now commonplace in many communities. Dangerous criminals are being let back out onto Britain's streets to make room in overcrowded prisons. And to top it all off, the public’s lack of faith in the police has reached record lows, with only 37 per cent believing that the police are doing a good job. 

Britain feels increasingly lawless. And beyond cheap tricks and lip service to conservative talking points, no one in our political class seems to have any worthwhile suggestions. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of examples of politicians turning around their crime-ridden countries and cities. 

Rudolph Giuliani
dramatically reduced crime rates in New York City when he was Mayor in the 1990s after aggressively policing lower-level crimes like graffiti, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour. More recently El Salvadorian President Nayib Bukele declared a total war on the country’s gangs which were making El Salvador one of the most dangerous countries in the world. El Salvador is now one of the safest in Latin America. Controversial characters, both. But a reminder that high crime is to some extent a policy choice.

Banning the police from spending money on woke hobby horses, slashing police red tape, and directing their focus to genuine crime rather than social media posts are just a handful of things the government could do. But most importantly, politicians must be bold and honest about the situation Britain is now in.

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