Boris Johnson makes incorrect claim on government cutting crime during parliament speech on Sue Gray police report

Prime minister said government has ‘been cutting crime by 14%’ - but figures show offences rising as prosecutions plummet

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Editor
Monday 31 January 2022 18:15
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Boris Johnson apologises in Commons after party probe report

Boris Johnson has sparked a fresh wave of outrage after telling MPs the government had been “cutting crime by 14 per cent”, when overall levels have increased.

The prime minister made the claim while responding to Sue Gray’s report on Downing Street parliament in the House of Commons on Monday.

Mr Johnson told MPs the issue was “whether this government can be trusted to deliver”, repeating: “Yes, we can be trusted!”

The prime minister reeled off a list of policies, including the Covid vaccination programme and freeports, but was greeted with shouts of “what?” from opposition MPs with a claim on crime levels.

Mr Johnson said “we’ve been cutting crime by 14 per cent”, but official figures published on Thursday showed many types of crime up while prosecutions hit a record low.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: “The prime minister claimed he has ‘been cutting crime by 14 per cent’ even though the independent Office of National Statistics (ONS) said just last week there had been ‘a 14 per cent increase in total crime’.

“To say things that are contradicted by the facts in the middle of a statement that is all about the lack of integrity and honesty in Number 10 is truly shameful. It shows, yet again, that no one can trust anything that Boris Johnson says.”

The prime minister appeared to be referring to statistics from the Crime Survey of England and Wales, which uses people’s reported experiences of crime rather than those recorded by police.

In the year to September, compared with the year to September 2019, the survey showed a 14 per cent increase in total crime. The figures were only down by 14 per cent if surging fraud and computer misuse are excluded from the total.

The ONS said the crime survey was not a reliable measure of high-harm crimes, such as serious violence, which are better measured by police figures.

They showed the highest ever number of rapes and sexual offences ever recorded in the same period, 12 per cent up on the previous year.

Police recorded a decrease in some forms of violent crime, including stabbings, but the ONS report made no mention of government policy playing a role.

“Patterns of crime in the year ending September 2021 have been significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic and government restrictions on social contact,” it said.

“The number of incidents decreased for many types of crime during periods of national lockdowns. However, police-recorded crime data show indications that over the last six months, certain offence types are returning to or exceeding the levels seen before the pandemic.”

Separate figures published by the Home Office showed that the proportion of crimes prosecuted in England and Wales plummeted to a record low in the year to September.

Overall, 6 per cent of crimes were prosecuted, including just 1.3 per cent of rapes, 2.9 per cent of all sexual offences and 5.4 per cent of violent crimes.

The figures came amid record delays in the time taken for cases to be dealt with, leaving victims waiting years for justice.

The average time taken from the recording of a serious offence to the end of proceedings is now 708 days, and the number of outstanding crown court cases stands at around 60,000, including 49,000 trials.

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