Shropshire Star comment: Give police more cash to foil evil
Perhaps the saddest indictment about the latest crime figures, is that a large rise in knife offences is not particularly shocking anymore.
In the four forces that make up the West Midlands region there were more than 4,600 crimes involving a blade in 2018, up 14 per cent on the previous year.
Another year, another rise in violence on our increasingly dangerous streets.
In some respects we are seeing the consequences of years of police force budget cuts.
Make no mistake, the increase in the number of offences does not mean that the police and our courts are doing a better job of bringing criminals to justice.
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Offenders are now confident that the chances of them getting caught are so slim that for many of them carrying a blade has become low-risk. But the solution to the issue goes way beyond simply bringing in more officers. It is where those officers are deployed that counts.
It is a tragic fact that despite their best efforts, many of our forces have lost touch with the communities they are employed to protect. While neighbourhood officers and PCSOs do a fantastic job, there are simply not enough of them to forge the close relationships necessary to prevent crime.
In days gone by, forces would have divisions of officers that served particular areas. They got to know the streets of their beat inside out, learned who the major players were and were always on hand to deal with community disputes.
It meant that potential flashpoints were often diffused before any damage was done, and that those who were at risk of being drawn into crime could be helped before it was too late.
Now that visible presence has gone, along with the police stations and many of the youth services and mental health services that could be used as points of referral.
Meanwhile, so-called low level crimes are often going unpunished.
Put it all together, and the result is that crime continues to rise while the powers that be collectively scratch their heads and wonder where it all went wrong. It is possible to curb the rising tide of violent crime, but only if our police forces are given the resources they need to do their jobs.