Getting violent offenders off of our streets, Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 16th February 2022

During my time as a councillor, I’ve met and worked with many members of the Police, from engaging with the Chief Constable as Crawley’s representative on the Sussex Police and Crime Panel, to everyday community-focused work with neighbourhood PCSOs and police officers. Throughout my time working with them, I’ve been consistently impressed by their professionalism, even in the most harrowing situations. While, national stories make it clear there are officers who should never have made it through recruitment and parts of its culture desperately need change, it’s important we recognise UK police services remain the envy of much of the world and the overworked and underpaid men and women who make up its ranks continue to act as the thin blue line between order and chaos.

Where systematic faults in our criminal justice system exist they are to be found in the political decisions taken nationally which have left services under-resourced for the realities of modern policing, creating the substantial reduction in visible policing and resulting in antisocial behaviour and minor crimes going unpunished as services are forced to target their resources.

This failure of investment stretches all the way to our the court system, which even before the impact of the pandemic was suffering from record backlogs in cases. All the time in the world spent by the police investing a case comes to nothing if it is impossible to bring that case to trial. Recent statistics show that in our region alone, over 826 violent and sexual offences cases have been waiting over a year to come to trial, with an astounding 111 still waiting after two years. That is a long time for a victim to wait for justice, that is a long time to remove violent and sexual offenders off of our streets. Is it any wonder that we see crime continuing to increase?

For justice to exist in England, we need a well-resourced court system, one capable of ensuring that all cases come to trial and giving the police confidence that their efforts on the ground will deliver a safer country for all of us.

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