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Spike in crimes after lockdown

By Thomas Parkes | Staffordshire | Crime | Published: | Last Updated:

Domestic abuse and hate offences have hit record highs as crime levels are rising since lockdown restrictions eased.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has also warned that the summer could see major increases in violence as incidents are going up each week.

It comes as the latest figures revealed crime during the coronavirus lockdown was a quarter lower compared to the same time last year.

Police recorded crime during lockdown across the country was 25 per cent lower in April and 20 per cent lower in May than the same periods in 2019, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.

It also fell five per cent in March compared with February.

A report to Mr Jamieson’s office this month confirmed there was a “significant and immediate” reduction of crime of all types during lockdown, but that this was rising, driven by increased domestic abuse, hate crime and other violence.

David Jamieson, West Midlands PCC, said: “Domestic abuse and hate crime are now running at record levels.

"That is in part down to campaigns to encourage people to report, but nevertheless shows the scale of offending.

"I have been warning for some time that this summer could see a major increase in violence and unfortunately we are already seeing weekly increases in violence, particularly amongst young people.”

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Plea for changes in the justice system to ‘break cycle of crime’

Police chiefs in the West Midlands and Staffordshire have backed calls for "systemic" changes to the justice system in a bid to help young people.

Police and crime commissioners David Jamieson and Matthew Ellis said more support and intervention was needed to stop those falling into crime.

Now they have backed a report from the The Revolving Doors Agency (RDA) which has called for major changes in a bid to cut re-offending rates.

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Measures to help vulnerable young people to take part in sports – or other physical activities – have already launched in the West Midlands, through the Violence Reduction Unit, in a bid to tackle knife crime.

And in Staffordshire, work has been carried out to deal with young people outside of the justice system – as well as offering them support through the Troubled Families programme.

The RDA has called for more tailored support to divert young people into mental health care before they revert back to crime – as well as dealing with minor offences outside of the court system.

They say short custodial sentences can result in homelessness or a criminal record, which can destroy young people's future employment prospects and drive them back into offending.

More support is also needed, they add, to build on the "abstinence" achieved in prison by supporting released prisoners into community services – to help build themselves back up again.

The RDA will work with PCCs – as well as other leaders – to provide more intervention by the police to steer people onto the right path, as well as helping people facing trauma or poverty.

Probation will also be revamped under the suggestions, to ensure a tailored option for each person – with the current system having "failed" young people due to focusing on a single issue.

Impact

Lastly, experience from young people will be used to create a "smarter" criminal justice system which understands the impact of each sentence on young people – and what will be beneficial to them.

Staffordshire Commissioner Matthew Ellis said: "I’ve always been in favour of prevention and if the criminal justice system took a smarter approach and intervened earlier in young lives where necessary, then many lives could be changed forever, stopping the huge human and financial costs to society.

"For minor offences there are opportunities for young people to be dealt with outside of the criminal justice system, which can stop them being pulled into that cycle of crime, which impacts us all ultimately, as victims of crime and taxpayers.

Staffordshire’s Matthew Ellis calls for ‘smarter approach’

"That is why I welcome this move by Revolving Doors and my team and I will explore with partners how we can do even more to break these destructive cycles."

The charity has pledged to work with PCCs to develop a better suited response to vulnerable young people – instead of them facing the strong arm of the law.

They will engage – and provide experience and insight – to help improve the design of court and tribunal systems to ensure it recognises people's vulnerability.

Pledged

And they have pledged to work with probation services for a tailored programme – as well as help tackle the decision-making in the criminal justice system, showcasing what punishment would better by using real experience.

Figures from the charity show a total of 50,000 cautions or convictions were handed to those aged between 18 to 24 for minor offences last year nationally.

And a total of 40 per cent of all offenders are repeat offenders – leading to calls for intervention from leaders to stop young people following in that path.

West Midlands PCC David Jamieson has urged for change

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: "I have invested in many services which focus on diverting people away from the criminal justice system and provide them with the help and support they need to lead fulfilling lives.

"If we truly want to break the cycle of crime we need to ensure that we give people the opportunities they need to thrive and positively contribute to society and instead of costing the taxpayer money they will become taxpayers.

"As well as preventing people from offending I am also committed to reducing re-offending rates. That is why I am working with partners in the criminal justice system to ensure that when people are released from prison there are services available to them that can help them find suitable accommodation and employment or training to break the cycle of crime."

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Senior Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at thomas.parkes@expressandstar.co.uk.

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