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Arrests drop by half as crime figures increase

THE number of arrests made by police in England and Wales has halved in a decade, new figures show.

Data from all but one of 43 forces revealed there were 698,737 arrests in the year to March, down from 1,427,387 in 2007/08, the government reported.

The reduction comes as police record rising numbers of crimes including violent, knife-related and sexual offences.

Data released last week showed forces registered 5.6million crimes in the year to June — the highest since 2005. But yesterday’s Home Office report said improvements in recording practices had increased confidence among victims, contributing to the rise.

Growing use of a process known as ‘voluntary attendance’, where an individual goes to a police station without having been arrested, has also been cited as a potential factor behind the dip in arrests.

However, a watchdog last year warned it could be linked to ‘resourcing pressures’. More than a third (38 per cent) of arrests were violence against the person offences, and a fifth related to theft.

The findings came as a Commons report suggested forces risk becoming ‘irrelevant’ amid vanishing neighbourhood presences and low investigation and detection rates.

In August police warned they were increasingly coming under attack, and earlier this month Ch Con Dave Thompson of West Midlands Police said forces were at a ‘tipping point’.