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50% say cuts in police are to blame for rise in crime

ALMOST half the public think police cuts have led to crime going up ‘a lot’ in the last five years — according to an exclusive poll for Metro.

Plunging officer numbers are believed to be the reason for the surge, along with soft sentences and a lack of respect for authority, the poll found.

Just three per cent of people think crime has fallen since 2014, compared with 71 per cent who think it is rising.

Boris Johnson’s pledge to replace 20,000 police officers cut since 2010 is likely to strike a chord with the 55 per cent who said it was the best way to tackle crime.

‘These figures show how right Mr Johnson’s new government has been to make tackling crime a big priority,’ said Gabriel Milland, of pollster Public First.

‘The public are strongly of the view crime is a problem which has got worse and is badly affecting their lives. They are also very clear they see cuts in police numbers since 2010 as a major mistake.’

Knife crime was singled out as the most important concern by two-thirds of respondents. But less than a third back the PM’s promise to increase the use of stop-and-search, with 39 per cent preferring better facilities to divert young people.

The survey of more than 1,000 people found around half have changed their behaviour over fears of crime, with 22 per cent trying to avoid walking home alone and nearly as many avoiding town centres at night.

There was a big age split with 54 per cent of over-65s blaming a ‘lack of respect’ for rising crime, compared with just 32 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds.

A third of the younger age group cited poverty as a significant cause, compared with just 12 per cent of pensioners.

Home Office figures show overall crime increased to nearly 5.2million across England and Wales since 2014, while violent crime rose by a fifth last year.

The proportion of reported crime, which saw someone charged or summonsed to appear in court, fell to a record low of just 7.8 per cent in the year to March.

The poll found strong support for facial recognition technology with 77 per cent backing it and just 15 per cent opposed.