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Forget deserving issues and focus on basics, police told

Chief Constable Sara Thornton

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Police should focus on catching thieves and violent criminals and not incidents where no offence has been committed, a senior officer has said.

Chief Constable Sara Thornton said forces are too stretched to deal with “deserving” issues, such as logging gender-based hate incidents.

Claims against dead people was also taking resources from tackling “today’s crime today”, she told a conference.

She called for a “refocus on core policing”.

Ms Thornton told police chiefs and police and crime commissioners: “We are asked to provide more and more bespoke services that are all desirable – but the simple fact is there are too many desirable and deserving issues.”

She added: “Neither investigating gender-based hate crime or investigating allegations against those who have died are necessarily bad things – I just argue that they cannot be priorities for a service that is over-stretched.”

Ms Thornton, the former head of the Thames Valley force who now chairs the National Police Chiefs’ Council, made reference to Home Office statistics published last week that showed arrests in England and Wales have halved in the last decade.

She also highlighted the Law Commission’s review into whether hate crime laws should be extended to cover offences motivated by hostility towards a victim’s sex or age.

Ms Thornton said while “treating misogyny as a hate crime is a concern for some well-organised campaigning organisations” forces “do not have the resources to do everything”.

She said: “I want us to solve more burglaries and bear down on violence before we make more records of incidents that are not crimes”, adding she hoped the review “takes account of the pressure on forces before suggesting the law is changed”.

Ms Thornton said historical investigations was “another example of issues that matter very much to some but they undoubtedly take resources away”.

She told delegates: “While I understand those who have been harmed seek answers, I remain unconvinced that it is appropriate to commit significant resources investigating allegations against those who have died.”

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Since 2010 police chiefs say funding in England and Wales has decreased, in real terms, by nearly a fifth, and there are 20,000 fewer officers.

Ms Thornton said: “We are seeing fewer police, less activity and more crime.”

Home Secretary Sajid Javid told the conference that crime has changed “faster than we could ever have anticipated” and called for a greater focus on crime prevention, collaboration between forces, and innovation.

He acknowledged police were “feeling stretched” but also promised delegates that forces would have the resources they needed by 2019-2020.

Forget deserving issues and focus on basics, police told}

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