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Government gives £4m extra funding for ‘hotspot policing’

·3-min read
The pilot targeted areas with high-visibility patrols (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)
The pilot targeted areas with high-visibility patrols (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)

A police force has found that putting officers on 15-minute-long uniformed patrols in crime hotspots, at targeted times, has helped cut violent crime.

Detective Chief Inspector Lewis Basford, of Essex Police, said officers targeted 20 hotspots, each of 150 metres by 150 metres, with short, high-visibility patrols during a pilot in Southend last year.

The tactic resulted in a 73.5% drop in violent crime and 31.9% fall in street crime on days when patrols visited, compared with days they did not.

DCI Basford, who designed the so-called ‘hotspot policing’ as part of his Masters degree in criminology from Cambridge University, said: “This is about putting a police officer in an area for the shortest amount of time for the highest residual benefit on crime.

“We’re getting the presence of the police, we’re giving back to the public a visible police presence, but we’re doing it at sporadic times, the right times, the right place, driven by data… driven by the inconsistencies of when we’re there.”

He said that some days officers may attend at 2pm, the next day may be at 6pm.

He said that during the pilot, officers conducted patrols at one location for three days in a row and found that the effect lasted for a further three days afterwards, with crime rising on the fourth day without a patrol.

The Home Office is giving 18 police forces a share of an additional £4.12 million to increase hotspot policing in towns and cities blighted by violent crime.

They are: Metropolitan Police West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Northumbria, Thames Valley, Lancashire, Essex, Avon and Somerset, Kent, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Bedfordshire, Sussex, Hampshire, South Wales.

Mr Basford said funding would help deploy officers to hotspot policing, pay for environmental changes such as CCTV cameras and cutting back foliage, and help with outreach schemes.

Here in Southend, they’re proving that this smart approach to hotspot policing, done consistently, can have a massive impact, but we want to see that across the rest of the country

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “One of the chief missions I’ve been set by the Prime Minister is to get violence down and particularly violence in the public realm.

“This kind of data-driven scientific hotspot policing is showing fantastic results in dealing with that problem so we’re investing in it across 18 areas of the country that are most plagued by this kind of violence and hopefully we’ll see significant falls over the months to come.

“Here in Southend, they’re proving that this smart approach to hotspot policing, done consistently, can have a massive impact, but we want to see that across the rest of the country.”

He said the extra funding is from £28 million won in the spending review last year to combat violence.

Mr Malthouse said the drive to recruit 20,000 extra police officers by 2023 is “ahead of schedule”.

“We’re just touching 10,000 police officers, almost halfway, about six to eight months ahead of where we should be, which is great news,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot more to go but the pipeline of applicants is looking really strong.”

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