Solved rates plummet for homicides, sex attacks and robberies
- Credit: Met Police
The proportion of serious crimes being solved by east London police has plummeted over the last five years, as crime surged but officer numbers fell.
Figures released under Freedom of Information laws show the percentage of cases resulting in “positive outcomes” is falling year-on-year.
In 2015/16, police in Havering, Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham were solving more homicides per year than were being perpetrated, as they cleared old cases alongside new ones.
By 2019/20, the solved rate for homicides had dropped by more than half – even though the number of reported homicides was exactly the same.
The proportion of cases being solved is deteriorating despite the Met having overhauled the way the three boroughs were policed three years ago, supposedly to improve performance.
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In early 2017, a pilot scheme placed the three areas into a “tri-borough” policing system known as the East Area Command Unit, which critics claimed was a cover for budget cuts.
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Response times fell drastically.
A third of the most serious emergency calls, classed as “immediate”, and almost half of the second most serious cases, classed as “significant”, were not attended on time.
Within months of the pilot’s launch, the average wait time for a “significant” call, which should be attended within one hour, had slowed to 11 and a half hours.
Roger Ramsay, then leader of Havering Council, said “short-sighted” cuts were having an “alarming” impact, which should call the pilot scheme into question.
Barking and Dagenham Council leader Darren Rodwell said the scheme was “nowhere near providing the service we need to keep our residents safe.”
The Met chalked the collapse in response times up to teething problems and made the tri-borough scheme permanent.
But new data shows that since then, reports of serious crimes have risen, waiting time targets have continued to be missed and the proportion of serious crimes being solved has collapsed.
Earlier this year, we asked the Met for data on eight serious crime types: homicide; violence against a person; rape and sexual assault; robbery; burglary; arson; domestic abuse; and hate crime.
The figures showed that in 2015/16, there were 31,812 reports of these sorts of crime. By 2019/20, there were 37,280 reports – a 20pc increase.
But officer numbers had not increased in line with demand. In fact, they had decreased.
Data shows that in 2014/15, the three boroughs had 1,462 police officers.
Repeated cuts meant that by 2017/18, officer numbers had dropped to by 15pc to 1,243.
By 2019/20, the figure had crept back up to 1,370 – but remained lower than six years earlier, meaning fewer officers were trying to deal with more crimes.
By mid-2019, the average wait time for a “significant” call in Barking and Dagenham was almost two hours.
Data released last month showed that in the second quarter of 2020, the tri-borough unit was still failing. Only 77 per cent of "immediate” calls and 62pc of “significant” calls were reached on time.
New figures show the proportion of cases being solved – which police refer to as a “positive outcome”, meaning a charge, summons or equivalent – has dropped significantly in all eight categories we asked about.
In 2015/16, 13 homicides were reported – but because police were clearing old cases, the “positive outcome” rate that year was 123pc.
In 2019/20 there were again 13 homicides, but the positive outcome rate had plunged to 54pc.
“Positive outcomes” for violence against a person dropped from 26pc to 10pc, whilst the rate for rape and sexual assault fell by more than three-quarters, from 22pc to 5pc.
Robbery was down from 13pc to 6pc, burglary from 10pc to 5pc, and arson from 15pc to 4pc.
Positive outcomes in domestic abuse cases fell from 36pc to 14pc, and hate crimes from 24pc to 9pc.
Ken Marsh, from police officers’ union the Met Police Federation, said officers faced a “constant struggle” to keep up with crime, adding: “It never helps when we haven’t got as many officers.”
He said he could not comment further and that it would be up to the Met to explain reductions in “positive outcomes”.
Detective Superintendent Paul Trevers, head of the East Area CID, said that community resolutions, which are increasingly common, were not always recorded as “positive outcomes”.
He said the outcomes of sexual and domestic abuse offences were sometimes impacted by “the willingness for a victim of crime to support a prosecution”.
Det Supt Trevers said a “move away” from taking other offences into consideration could have affected burglary and robbery statistics, but that a recent review had seen the practice reinstated.
“This will enhance positive outcomes in the near future,” he said.
"Ultimately, improving positive outcomes will be a combination of effective crime recording, investigation and victim support, which is often connected with trust and confidence, particularly with younger people.”