THE police are at risk of becoming irrelevant as their presence on the streets dwindles and vast numbers of crimes go unsolved, MPs have warned.
Forces are ‘struggling to cope’ and there will be dire consequences for public safety unless they are given more funding, according to the Commons home affairs committee.
Recorded crime has risen by nearly a third in three years while charges and summonses have fallen by 26 per cent and the number of arrests is also down, the MPs said after an inquiry.
They estimated that forces across England and Wales have lost at least a fifth of their neighbourhood policing capacity since 2010.
The local officers — who play an important role in preventing terrorism and gang crime — need to be put back into areas where ‘distrust of public authority is rife’, a report by the committee says. It adds: ‘In all neighbourhoods, without local engagement, policing is at risk of becoming irrelevant to most people, particularly in the context of low rates of investigation for many crimes.’
Only a tiny proportion of online fraud cases are ever investigated and the police response needs a fundamental overhaul, the MPs also found. And they said forces were ‘woefully under-resourced’ for the volume of online child sexual abuse investigations they have to conduct.
They warned such abuse was reaching ‘epidemic’ levels, with an estimated 80,000 people now thought to present some form of threat to youngsters online.
Labour MP Yvette Cooper (pictured), who chairs the committee, said: ‘The police service is struggling to respond effectively to growing challenges. Policing urgently needs more money.’