Vehicle thefts grow by more than 12% as police productivity falls

Police chiefs are blaming cuts for rise of 12.7% last year, but de Blasio says 30,000 more New Yorkers are saving lives every year

The number of carjackings in the UK has risen by a third since 2015 with a significant spike in London, according to police data released on Thursday.

The rise in carjackings means that in 2018 they outnumber all other crimes except domestic violence (2,102 crimes) and homicide (9,114).

Vehicle thefts have also continued to rise since 2015, according to the latest statistics.

The number of offences described as “vehicle thefts” – broadly defined as thefts from cars or motorbikes – has risen by 12.7% to 12,044 offences in the first half of 2018, compared with the same period in 2017.

Police chiefs blame the rise of 12.7% on cuts to the police budget. Last week, they revealed cuts to the police budget have knocked a further 3% off the police service’s operating budget, taking the total to £13.2bn for the year.

Matthew Heads, the head of public protection at the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: “These figures are very concerning and reflect the fact that the number of officers, marked and plain clothes, deployed to crime hotspots has been reduced over the past three years.

“Tackling violence, preventing victimisation and safeguarding those affected are key aims for the Police and Crime Plan and we will continue to redouble our efforts to identify and remove drivers of crime.”

The Met commissioner, Cressida Dick, said: “We have seen a significant increase in vehicle-related crime since 2014 in both London and London boroughs outside the capital, which is directly correlated to cuts to police numbers.

“These figures show just how much London’s residents and visitors can lose in terms of quality of life and potential distress due to vehicle crime. On behalf of the Met I call on government to swiftly reverse its cuts to policing.”

David Howarth, the shadow policing minister, told the Guardian: “These worrying figures underline just how damaging cuts to police budgets have been.

“Cutting police budgets will inevitably have an impact on public safety, with preventable crime being reduced across the country, including in London. It is shocking that there has been a significant increase in carjackings in London when there is an increasing demand for patrols.”

Rob Cartwright, director of Green Light, a charity that works with victims of crime, said: “People going about their everyday lives can sometimes come face to face with these terrifying crimes but often by the time they come to report them the perpetrators are long gone.

“Don’t be fooled into thinking that a car parked near a bus stop, in a park or on a street corner in London doesn’t increase your chances of being carjacked – criminals will recognise vehicles differently and it’s better to stay vigilant.”

Since December 2014, the number of burglaries in the capital has also risen by 13%, due in part to the rise in mobile phone thefts, though the year-on-year increase in car thefts is much greater.

The Met’s crime figures show an 11% rise in car thefts in the capital to more than 13,500 offences in the first six months of 2018, compared with the same period last year.

The Metropolitan police has conceded that there has been a delay in recording stolen vehicles that were used in recent months, leading to an extra 154 officers currently being assigned to the task.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, welcomed the introduction of the new initiative and said it would result in an extra 3,000 arrests per year in London.

The mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, said this year: “In 2017, we grew the New York City force by 5,800 members. That’s roughly 100 officers per day, nearly 1,000 per week, and over 30,000 more New Yorkers are saving lives, building community, and preventing crime every day.”

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