Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Solving Crime In Our Time

Anna Roberts reports on the latest crime figures to be released.

She notes that all the neighbourhood policing zones in Reading have 'average' levels of crime, except central Reading, which has 'high' levels.

You can investigate the figures on the interactive national website.

Of the six Berkshire boroughs Reading and Slough are considered 'above average' as a whole, while Bracknell Forest, Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, Wokingham and West Berkshire are all considered 'average'.

Chief Superintendent Richard Bennett said that there had been a general decline in crimes across the area, although the statistical variables were the result of a low levels of crime in the county as a whole. For instance Wokingham is among the top ten safest places in the whole country.

He added that the designation of 'high' crime levels also gave a false impression of the actual numbers of crimes committed because this is measured as a proportion of the total population.

Howard Thomas cynically accuses the government of encouraging Police officers to "dress up the figures to make them as acceptable as possible".

He says that false categorisation of violent crimes makes you wonder whether it is worth reporting an incident - it's almost as if he thinks the statistics matter more than the effect crime has on real people and that every front line copper is a member of an evil conspiracy!

Meanwhile Thames Valley Police have also launched an online crime reporting tool - you can find it here: - https://reportonline.thamesvalley.police.uk/

Chief Superintendent Liam Macdougall said he was excited by the possibilities of the new communication channel, which would enable members of the public to have greater choice over their preferred method of contact. He added that this would be of particular benefit to those sections of the community who experience communication difficulties.

Elsewhere a shake-up in community engagement has been announced after the results of a fullscale survey into local community engagement was conducted across the region.

Superintendent Steve Kirk explained that a reorganisation of Neighbourhood Action Groups (NAGs) had been approved at a meeting of the Safer Reading Forum.

He countered criticism that this was a simple money-saving initiative by arguing it would help provide a better level of service.

Additionally he reaffirmed the success of community sentences as a way to reduce offending and tackle the root causes of crime. He pointed to the 70% reduction in reoffending rate by prolific offenders in the first half of the year, saying:
"Community sentences, despite what some people think, are not ‘soft’, particularly as we have strengthened supervision by the police and probation service working together."
In the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead community wardens, police and housing association staff will be issuing crime reduction advice, carrying out visibility patrols and taking part in clean-up days as part of the Home Office 'Not in my Neighbourhood' week from Monday 2nd November.

And additional personnel have been drafted in to cope with additional risks during the Halloween festivities and the anti-social behaviour threat associated with trick-or-treating.
Community Safety inspector for Slough Local Police Area, Insp Andy Boomer said:
"We are determined to ensure that everyone enjoys the festivities safely and that the public feel reassured by the strong police presence."
Crime reduction advisor Annie Tewkesbury called for consideration, telling the public to remember "there are some members of the community, particularly elderly or vulnerable people, who can be intimidated" by what others consider fun.

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