Burglary and shoplifting are no longer seen as serious crimes, and are "virtually being decriminalised" in Britain, according to a report by Policy Exchange. The report was written by Labour's MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, who is also Labour's mayoral candidate. Drawing on figures produced by the Office of National Statistics, 1 in 3 burglaries and 9 in 10 shoplifting offences are not reported to the #Police according to Policy Exchange.
The report refers to a poll of 400 newsagents, a third of which were not confident in the police's ability to successfully secure a prosecution for shoplifting offences. Lammy feels that the police are "turning a blind eye" to such incident, even though they account for 75% of all recorded crime across England and Wales.
Victims, he claims, are only reporting crimes in order to get a crime number, so that they can make an insurance claim and they are left with very little hope that the incident will be investigated, let alone resolved. At a time when there is pressure on budgets, Lammy feels that these crimes are not given the attention they deserve despite the fact that they "disproportionately affect Britain's deprived communities."
The report also highlights the impact of repeat offenders. It is found that, over half of offenders convicted for theft, had fifteen or more offences. Lammy's team would like community officers to shift its focus to property crime and for there, to be a greater sharing of data between forces.
The report is contrary to figures released in January, confirming that crime figures had fallen 11% in the year to September 2014. It was suggested that overall crime was at its lowest level since 1981. However, the types of crime that are reported have changed over the decades. Significantly there was a 16% rise in violence and 22% increase in sexual offences. Incidences of fraud also rose by 5%.
In 2014, the reliability of crime statistics was called into question by the UK Statistics Authority, because of the way they were reported. The watchdog's findings caused major changes in the way that the police's figures were recorded. The Office of National Statistics found that changes in the 2015 figures, were down to better reporting.
In election year, David Lammy's report may well call into question the validity of government crime figures, if burglary and shoplifting are now considered so minor as to be decriminalised. The public need to have confidence in their police force and not be desensitised to crime. It is not enough for politicians to broadcast that there has been a reduction in crime; people need to feel safer because of it. Lammy argues that in such cases, "it does not feel that way to victims of some of the most common crimes".#Society