Jeremy Browne MP writes… The Liberal Democrats are presiding over falling crime

Today the Coalition Government has – once again – confounded its critics. Despite the ongoing challenges in our economy, crime continues to fall. Criminologists and Labour politicians have repeatedly pointed to the country’s economic troubles and insisted we would see a rapid increase in crime rates. The most pessimistic forecasters warned of an explosion in criminality that would undermine the very fabric of our society. And yet today we hear that crime in England and Wales is at its lowest point since the independent crime survey began in 1981.

The facts speak for themselves. Crime has been lower every single year under this Coalition Government than it was in every single year that Labour was in power – falling by over 10% since the Government was formed in 2010. It is lower in every one of the 43 police forces in England and Wales. And it is not just lesser crimes which are falling in a way that could potentially distort the numbers as a whole. The murder rate in England and Wales is at its lowest for thirty years. In London it is at its lowest since 1970.

I know that some people are wary, understandably, of these kinds of statistics. But there is a robust consistency in the evidence: it all tells the same story. Police recorded crime is down. The extensive and highly regarded independent survey of crime shows a similar reduction. And all at a time when the police, with reduced budget allocations, are having to achieve greater efficiencies and do more with less.

That is cause for all Liberal Democrats to feel proud. At every election I can remember our opponents have attacked us with the same tired accusation: the Liberal Democrats will be weak on crime. And yet, in Government, we are unambiguously proving them wrong. By making the police more effective and more efficient, we have achieved the ideal outcome: better value for money for taxpayers and better results. These are not just statistics – they are about real people’s lives. Although every crime is traumatic for the victim, overall our neighbourhoods are safer than they have been for a generation.

All liberals want every person to live free from fear and prejudice. The Liberal Democrats, presiding over falling crime, are making that ideal a greater reality for millions of people.

* Jeremy Browne is the MP for Taunton Deane, and was previously a minister in both the Home and Foreign offices.

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  • Crime was falling before the coalition, this is a continuation of the trend. The coalition have not a radically different policy on crime to the previous government. Therefore crime is falling because of factors independent of the parties in government.

    Saying crime is falling because Liberal Democrats are in government is like saying global warming is caused by a decline in piracy in the Caribbean.

    Correlation DOES NOT EQUAL causation.

  • What are you doing to put an end to the disastrous war on drugs? Why are you allowing May to become ever more authoritarian on drugs policy?

    And crime has been falling since the 90s, it often has to do with factors beyond which part is in government, such as better security systems for homes, cars etc – although theft has increased in the past year. Perhaps this isn’t surprising what with this tory government (for that is what it is, it is not a coalition) making the poor poorer.

  • Joe Otten, i don’t think the argument was that crime would rise under a Tory led coalition, so much as a Lib Dem majority government?

    It’s also too early to tell if police cuts would lead to increases in crime, because those cuts haven’t really happened yet. It’s also possibly, as a legitimate explanation, to attribute changes in crime levels to changes in recording crimes (not an argument I would pursue, but a valid one in theory)

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Jul '13 - 6:08pm

    It could be that the figures noted here are all due to Conservative policies. The Conservatives have not in general been accused of being weak on crime.

    I see nothing in this article which points out any distinctive input from the Liberal Democrats which is claimed to be responsible for what it is commending.

    If by Liberal Democrats “presiding over” it is meant simply that we are part of a coalition which is presiding over it, then Jeremy Browne has effectively merged us with the Conservatives. If we are “presiding over” this, we are “presiding over” everything else this government is doing, and it is a government which in composition is five-sixths Conservative. So Jeremy Browne is saying Conservative policies are our policies. If we take this line, there will be no point in Conservatives and Liberal Democrats fighting each other in the next general election. Perhaps this is what Jeremy Browne wants, so he can have the Coalition coupon and hence retain his seat. However, it means most of us in the party will not have the Coalition coupon, and will be expected to support a Conservative candidate. How could it be otherwise when that Conservative candidate can say exactly the same about this government’s policies as Jeremy Browne is here – that he is part of a party which is “presiding over” them?

    So the line taken here effectively destroys the Liberal Democrat party, except in a few dozen seats where it is ahead of the Conservatives.

  • The Liberal Democrats “presiding over”? The last time I checked, the Home Secretary was a Tory. Has there been a cabinet shuffle overnight?

  • Richard Harris 18th Jul '13 - 10:20pm

    It’s been falling for years, so presumably we are going to take this opportunity to congratulate Labour as well? No> Thought not.

  • Of course crime is falling, nobody bothers to report incidences of crime anymore.

    And anyway you rarely see ‘real’ officers patrolling anymore so who do you report crime to? All the Police stations are closed!

  • Just heard a Police officer on TV just say if somebody walks down a street and smashes ten car windows on ten separate cars that is classed as one crime?

    I get it now, you lie and manipulate the figures!

  • Martin
    We are not reliant just on incidences of crime reported to the police. The British Crime Survey interviews up to 50,000 people in England and Wales each year to record their experiences of crime whether reported to the police or not. We can be very confident that crime has been falling for the last 20 years.

  • Richard Wingfield 19th Jul '13 - 11:15am

    While crime may have been falling under the previous Labour government, this Coalition government has managed to continue that trend whilst at the same time reducing the amount we spend on police. That is a success. Whether it is because of the Tories, the Lib Dems, or other completely external factors, it is something be to be pleased about and you can hardly criticise the Minister for Crime Prevention from being pleased.

    I see plenty of Lib Dem involvement in the government’s criminal justice policies: scrapping ID cards, reducing police bureaucracy, championing restorative justice. Yes the Home Secretary is a Tory, and I’m disappointed by the Home Office’s policy on drugs which remains based on politics rather than evidence, but this is not a Lib Dem government and until both Labour and the Tories change their drugs policy, we’re never going to be able to change anything by ourselves.

    I agree with Geoffrey that some more detail would be good. Exactly how are the police more effective and efficient? What are they no longer doing that they used to do under Labour? Does it mean that the actual number of hours police are out on the beat has increased, despite the fall in police numbers?

  • Andrew Garratt 19th Jul '13 - 2:06pm

    This is embarrassingly statistically illiterate. Correlation is not causation. Crime has long been falling. Nothing in this article suggests there is anything casual about the relationship between falling crime and Liberal Democrat involvement in government.

  • Andrew Garratt 19th Jul '13 - 2:21pm

    Sp: casual should be causal.

  • David Wilkinson 20th Jul '13 - 12:10pm

    I see some people cannot accept that crime as fallen under thecoalition government, that not in the script.
    I looked the press comments of the local Labour MP’s all doom and gloom which as not happen..

    I am surprise that Jeremy has not mention the Lions tour, Murray at Wimbledon,the Ashes (so far), possible Tor de France.
    If Labour had still be in power they would have claimed credit for all of them

  • John Roffey 20th Jul '13 - 1:13pm

    I am surprised no one has mentioned:

    Police officers under “massive pressure” not to record crime

    POLICE in the region are coming under “massive pressure” not to record all crime incidents, a police federation boss has claimed amid fears that falling crime figures are misleading.

    As the reason the public do not believe the falling crime figures.

  • Richard Wingfield 20th Jul '13 - 3:13pm

    John Roffey: There are a number of different ways of estimating the number of crimes that are committed. The number of offences recorded by the police is just one of them. As the latest ONS statistics show, the number of crimes recorded by police fell by 7% last year (

    However, another method is to interview households and residents which the ONS has also done. This method indicated a fall of 9% from the previous year.

    So your conclusion that the falling figures are down to police recording fewer crimes is a bogus one, as it is backed up by the experiences of individuals and households. Or are you suggesting that the public are also under pressure not to tell the Crime Survey for England and Wales about the offences they’ve experienced?

  • John Roffey 20th Jul '13 - 3:36pm

    @Richard Wingfield

    I did not say that I did not believe that crime figures were falling. However, the issue of whether this was believed was raised – hence my offer of an explanation for this disbelief.

    In truth – I have no idea because like the majority – I believe that politicians are generally dishonest:

    From the Evening Standard:

    MPs are bottom of the pile when it comes to trust.

    Politicians are bottom in a league table of people trusted to tell the truth, an exclusive Ipsos MORI poll reveals in today’s Evening Standard.

    Bankers and journalists, some of whom have been mired in scandals, emerge as more trusted not to lie than politicians in general.

    And in a stunning blow to the prestige of the political elite, a third of voters believe that the criminal dishonesty of former Cabinet minister Chris Huhne, who now faces going to prison, is typical of most or all of them.

    Just 18 per cent trust politicians in general to tell the truth — and only 23 per cent trust MPs specifically.

    Bankers and journalists are trusted by 21 per cent, despite the City rate-fixing scandals and phone-hacking by some newspapers.

  • There is a very obvious logical flaw in Jeremy Browne’s argument. The fact that crime rates have fallen does not prove that cuts in police spending and numbers have had no ill-effect. Crime might have fallen by an even greater level had previous police numbers been retained!

    Equally flawed is the assertion by Theresa May that police funding can be safely cut yet further after 2015. Just because many police forces have delivered efficiency savings up to now, without serious impact on front-line policing, doesn’t mean they can carry on doing so. It’s the same approach the coalition take to local govemment – you’ve cut 30% so that means you can easily cut another 10%!

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 21st Jul '13 - 2:05pm

    As a former police officer and an academic criminologist I find the assertions rather strange as I am pretty sure that they cannot be corroborated with evidence.

    Before we as a Party claim credit for supposed successes it would be useful if it was based in evidence.

    The reality is that crime has, as previous commentators mentioned been falling for a while, it started under Labour and has continued under the Coalition. Perhaps such things as the national Neighbourhood Policing Programme has started to show positive results and that the police service is more effective in crime prevention and detection ?

    Personally as someone that has had to report two incidents in the past fourth eight hours to two different police services, I doubt the latter reason for the fall of crime, and sadly feel that perhaps the publics lack of confidence in reporting crime may well be partly a factor. I am currently through some of the charities that I am involved with dealing with ‘Hate Crimes’ where the police lack of interest has resulted in community wide apathy in reporting anything in the future.

    If one takes history into account and evaluates past crime trends, then it would tend to suggest that as the recession continues to have a negative impact on society crime is likely to rise, but this rise may not be immediate.

    The big battle that the criminal justice system and the Government has failed to win is combating the rising level of ‘fear of crime’ , which exceeds reality, but is fueled by negative stories that are sploited by the media and scurrilous politicians.

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