08:09 Friday 24th April 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
DOTTY MCLEOD: “I don’t feel safe anymore.” Those are the words of a disabled Peterborough veteran as he comes to terms with being the victim of a horrific attack. It comes as the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show there’s been a sharp rise in violent and sexual crime in Cambridgeshire. The number of violent crimes is up 45% from last year. Sexual offences are up 53%. And robbery is up 30%. .. Let’s talk to Ed Murphy. Ed, you’re a Peterborough Labour councillor. You’re also a former candidate for Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner role. Good morning.
ED MURPHY: Good morning.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So we’ve heard from the Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Graham Bright. In a statement he says that these crimes figures are up because people are reporting more crimes. Do you agree?
ED MURPHY: No. He’s actually lying through his back teeth once again on this one. He’s in denial. Three months ago I was talking to your listeners about rising violent crime, particularly in the Peterborough area. We’d had four muggings, including Richard, and he’s just in complete denial. Your figures that you quoted from the Office for National Statistics are really alarming. In Cambridgeshire violence against the person that year up 45%. If you look at another comparable police force, the Police Service in Derbyshire, it went up by 4%.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So what do you think is driving the rises then Ed?
ED MURPHY: What’s driving it is a cut in the number of police officers and waste. I’ve calculated about £7 million on Graham Bright’s office since he came in. Cambridgeshire is the fastest growing county in the country. We need more police officers, not less police officers. And we need to tackle this so people like Richard can feel safe in going out in their own town they live in. It’s absolutely disgraceful that too many people don’t feel safe and secure in their own towns and villages throughout Cambridgeshire. And quite frankly, for police officers to be put on by Graham Bright who’s afraid to come on the radio, and try and make out it’s because more people are reporting crime, is a nonsense. Your listeners have tried ringing 101 and reporting crime. They know it’s a lie.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Well let’s talk now to Chief Superintendent DanVajzovic who’s the Head of Territorial Policing at Cambridgeshire Police. Dan, thanks for coming on this morning. You heard there Ed Murphy saying it is a disgrace that people in Cambridgeshire are afraid to leave their homes at night. Do you agree?
DAN VAJZOVIC: Before I can do that I just want to be really clear. I don’t want to get involved in a debate between the Police and Crime Commissioner and Mr Murphy. The police are operationally independent of politics, and we’re here to talk about operational policing.
DOTTY MCLEOD : Absolutely. And we appreciate you coming on this morning. If you could give your view on this though ..
DAN VAJZOVIC: Yes.
DOTTY MCLEOD: We heard from someone who is afraid to leave their front door after dark in Peterborough. Is that alright?
DAN VAJZOVIC: No clearly. Mr Sandon’s had a terrible experience, but I want to make it clear to your listeners that Cambridgeshire is a really really safe place, and the number of incidents of serious violence and robbery across Cambridgeshire have gone down consistently over a number of years. Unfortunately in the last year 2014 we saw a small increase from about 400 robberies a year up to about 458 in that year. And that’s not acceptable. We want to take robbery down even further. And it’s come down from about 800 presenters? a year down to about 400. Last year saw a little bit of a spike. And for each of the victims of those offences I can only say sorry, we’re going to try harder, and we’ll reduce robbery even further in the future.
DOTTY MCLEOD: figures from the Office for National Statistics though Dan., the number of violent crimes up 45% on last year, sexual offences up 53% from last year. These are dramatic rises. What do you say is behind them?
DAN VAJZOVIC: Before I look at the overall figures, I want to be clear. We’ve been consistent for a number of years now that in Cambridgeshire ..
DOTTY MCLEOD: Right then. So why these huge rises from last year?
DAN VAJZOVIC: We need to reduce crime, but we’re not to focus on the figures. The public think that crime figures can be manipulated, and we know that many indicators since the mid-90s have seen crime going down year on year. But the most important thing is the public’s experience, day in day out. Our job is to reduce crime, and I think, overall, the figures show that we’ve been doing that well. And these are Office for National Statistics figures. Addressing the point that you want me to around violent crime, violent crime has gone up significantly between 2013 and 2014. I think there’s probably three reasons for that. Firstly we’re recording more victim-led violent crime. So things like child abuse, sexual offences, domestic abuse, they have gone up. I’m not apologising for that. I think that the public have got more trust and confidence in reporting those types of offences to us, and we’re actually going out and proactively seeking those types of offences. I would expect that those figures will continue to rise.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Well Dan let’s look into this a little bit, because this is the line we always hear, that higher crime figures mean people are more confident at reporting crime. This is what Richard Sandon had to say about that earlier. Have a listen.
RICHARD SANDON: I’m not sure it’s about better reporting. A police officer walking down the street, it’s a huge deterrent for the have-a-goers, the chancers. There aren’t the uniforms on the street. There are cutbacks at the stations, detectives, even to the point where we’re being asked to investigate our own burglaries. So I don’t think it’s better reporting. I think yes, it’s gone up immensely.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So you’re saying he doesn’t have a point.
DAN VAJZOVIC: No. I think Mr Sandon has had an horrendous experience, and I understand fully his views. They’re perfectly valid. In terms of the facts around police officers numbers, our police officer numbers in Cambridgeshire, on the front line, haven’t reduced. In actual fact the number of operational hours that police officers are out on the street, visibly, has increased. We’re rolling out lots of technology to make sure that officers aren’t sat in stations doing paperwork. They’re out on the streets. And hopefully a wider sample of the population would be able to reflect that.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Dan Vajzovic, we’ll have to leave it there. Thank you for your time this morning. And Dan is Chief Superintendent DanVajzovic, the Head of Territorial Policing at Cambridgeshire Police. You also heard from Ed Murphy, who is a councillor in Peterborough for the Labour Party, and also stood to be Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner back in 2012. Now Ed is standing as a candidate for Peterborough City Council in the Ravensthorpe ward in the upcoming local elections, which means I need to read out this list of the other candidates who are standing in that ward. So you have David Neville for the UK Independence Party, Harry Newton for the Conservative Party and Jo Weedon for the Green Party.