The Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, has been clear that her overarching priority for the police is to cut crime. In practice, this involves: the prevention and detection of crime; understanding offender behaviour; dealing with the activities that can lead to criminality; building relationships with the public; understanding the experience of victims; maintaining public order; policing public spaces; keeping communities safe; and so much more. In addition, as an emergency service the police have a number of other responsibilities and commitments, including preparing for and responding to major incidents and even natural disasters.
This statement is an attempt to represent all the demands, responsibilities and commitments the police have, and put the statistics made available to the public in context.
The role of the police is to respond to calls for assistance from the public and other agencies, and to initiate other activity to ensure the safety of the community. Ultimately, everything the police do is in order to cut crime.
In common with the rest of the public sector, police forces are finding new and less expensive ways of working that meet the needs of the public and sustain quality of service. Of particular note is the new initiative of restorative justice (or community resolution) through which the police can reduce re-offending, reduce cost and better meet the needs of victims in dealing with crimes where the offender is known. Forces now use new ways of dealing with some crimes, meaning that some ‘official’ statistics (such as detection rates) under-represent the success in solving crimes. Forces are also placing emphasis on understanding criminals, particularly those who represent a serious threat and operate in organised groups. Offenders don’t recognise force boundaries and so police forces work together to prevent serious crimes including terrorism. These crimes are relatively rare but take a great deal of effort and resource.