Yesterday, Sir Hugh Orde, the nation’s most senior police lobbyist, issued a chilling warning in the pages of The Observer that cuts in police budgets meant we were about to pass a “tipping point”, where public safety would be endangered.
It sounds serious. And it would be, if he hadn’t given the same warning in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 – and if crime rates hadn’t defied his predictions by continuing to fall during that period. (And before anyone says it in the comments, no, that fall isn’t based on police recording of crime, it’s based on the more accurate NCS).
I don’t suggest that crime has fallen because of police cuts, that would be absurd. Rather it has fallen due to a combination of better use of police funding and because of wider trends (Steven Pinker’s book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, makes an interesting argument on this topic). Labour’s theory that a more expensive service is always a better service has turned out to be a nonsense, and a dual success has been secured, fiscally and in terms of law and order.
Despite four years of the exact same predictions, Orde has repeatedly turned out to be wrong. The Observer‘s political motive in reprinting what is essentially an old, flawed press release is clear, but is there really any point in continuing to air Sir Hugh’s doom-laden scaremongering?