“It is a paradox that, while overall crime levels are falling, the public feel increasingly unsafe in their communities. The Conservatives, traditionally the party of law and order, are losing ground to Labour on the issue and we should expect it to be a significant plank of Sir Keir Starmer’s general election campaign.

In fact, public concern is not entirely imagined. The overall drop in crime disguises increases in the specific offences that matter most to communities. In recent years, the police have recorded rising numbers of crimes such as weapons possession, theft and drugs offences. Rising crime is also concentrated geographically, meaning certain communities are experiencing real increases in crime, even if national trends are down. Just 15 areas, particularly northern cities, account for a third of the increase in drug offences recorded in the first year of the pandemic.

This is a political problem as well as a social issue because many of the places worst hit by rising crime are in the red wall. A first-time Conservative voter living in Burnley is five times more likely to be burgled than someone in Broadland. To be fair, the government is not blind to this problem and is recruiting 20,000 warranted police officers in an attempt to address it. But ministers should beware. Cops with flashing lights are no substitute for bobbies on the beat preventing crimes in the first place.”

You can read the full piece here.