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Less than a quarter of people say UK policing makes them feel safe as nine in 10 call for more officers to be employed

Our first-of-its-kind national study to find out the British public’s perceptions of the Police has yielded some interesting results which we share below.

  • Two in five feel officers do a great job – but less than a quarter feel safe
  • 89 per cent of those questioned call for more officers on streets
  • 67% feel police are overworked
  • Legal firm sees 34% rise in civil liberties cases

Less than a quarter of people (22%) who took part in a survey of policing in the UK say they currently feel safe and protected by police officers.

Almost one in five said they either didn’t trust the police or felt officers would not provide protection for them if in danger, with 89 per cent calling for the Government to employ more officers on the streets.

The study was conducted by civil liberties specialists Hudgell Solicitors to explore the nation’s perceptions of policing and the other emergency services, following a 34% increase in civil liberties cases at the firm over the past 12 months.

Although two-in-five people (41%) said they felt police officers do a great job, 67 per cent raised concerns about them being overworked, with four in five (80%) calling for greater financial support for policing from the Government.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given recent large-scale incidents, terrorism (38%) was highlighted as the biggest challenge facing the police forces in the UK today, followed by drugs and alcohol (17%) and serious violence (15%).

Policing in the UK Infographic

Policing in the UK Infographic

Andrew Petherbridge, a specialist in handling police misconduct and civil liberties claims at Hudgell Solicitors, said the results of the anonymous study, which was hosted online, suggest increasing concern over the police’s ability to protect the public given limited resources.

“It is certainly not surprising to see people calling for more officers on the streets, something which has long been an issue and will perhaps continue to be something high on the political agenda for some time,” he said.

“The fact that so many people are now saying they feel unsafe, that police officers are overworked and unable to properly protect law-abiding people, is a really strong message.

“Recent events and attacks will of course have impacted on these results, but many clearly now don’t feel safe on the UK’s streets, or don’t feel police will protect them as they should.”

Almost half of those surveyed (43%) said 20,000 more police officers are needed on the streets, with just 11 per cent satisfied with the current number serving.

Furthermore, 89 per cent of respondents agreed that the police need to be more visible in cities across the country, and when asked which political party they feel is most committed to improving policing in the UK, the Labour party was the clear leader with 57 per cent.

Just over half of those questioned (51%) said their perceptions of the police had been influenced by their own experiences, whilst 30% said experiences their family and friends had impacted on their views.

Other influencing factors on views of the police include the portrayal of police by the media (40%), how frequently they patrol neighbourhoods (25%), certain laws that they enforce (e.g. speeding penalties) (21%) and police portrayal in television documentaries and dramas (19%).

People can continue to share their views by completing the study here: https://www.hudgellsolicitors.co.uk/civil-liberties/policing-in-the-uk/

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20/09/2017 No Comments

Is the law really on the side of serious crime victims?

Police officers

ONLY when somebody finds themselves the unfortunate victim of a serious crime or major injustice do they become fully aware of how the law works in the UK – and how it can leave them feeling let down and ignored.

When we consider the Criminal Justice System in the UK, we often wrongly judge its success simply on the conviction rates. Improved figures are held up by Government leaders as evidence of improved policing – falling conviction rates are usually highlighted by the media as abject failures.

But is it that simple? The answer is no.

In my work for Neil Hudgell Solicitors, as a specialist in handling claims against the police for unlawful arrest, unlawful detention, assault and human rights breaches, I see behind the headline figures, and deal with those who are affected long-term by errors made in the rush to secure quick convictions.

That work this week took me to the MAMAA 2014 conference, a fascinating day focussed around improving victims’ experience of the Criminal Justice System.

Listening to a superb range of speakers, it was abundantly clear that simply totting up the number of crimes with a tick by their side for should never be used as a barometer of success.

There is so much more to ensuring the Criminal Justice System runs as it should.

I see the long-lasting impact on the people who are wrongly accused of crimes they haven’t committed through my work. Often, the error comes about as police have one sole focus, putting a name against the crime and getting them locked up.

In almost all of my cases, the victim and their families suffer long after an apology is made. Their reputation is always damaged, sometimes almost beyond repair, when they have been completely innocent.

Established in 1993, MAMAA is a national, registered charity which offers support for victims of violent crime and individuals and families who have been bereaved by homicide.

It is certainly doing sterling work,  providing training and development for those working with victims, such as Family Liaison Officers (FLOs), as well campaigning to policy makers to consider the needs of those bereaved by acts of violent crime.

MAMAA stands up for the innocent, those who have come to rely on the justice system, not through choice, but through a terrible turn of events which has changed their lives forever.

For these people, long-term support, communication and understanding of what they have experienced is often just as important as a conviction – something those in the justice system often seem to forget.

MAMAA sees first-hand how many people remain affected by the impact of violent crime for many years, and feel let down, and even worse ignored, when they are experiencing the most painful time of their lives.

The conference communicated a very clear feeling of just how crucial it is for such families not to be forgotten, to ensure they are always listened to, taken seriously, and updated throughout a case relating to them.

It brought admissions from senior policing figures that big changes are needed to do just that at all times.

Commander Graham McNulty, of the Specialist Crime Investigation team at the Metropolitan Police Service, said the Criminal Justice System ‘still has a long way to go’, but is ‘heading in the right direction’.

Describing the work of FLOs as ‘one of most demanding and most important roles within the police service, he added: “The pendulum has swung, we are putting victims before the needs of the investigation. Victims need to have confidence they can come forward, and be believed.”

Being believed is not the only thing victims and their families require though. They need an understanding of the impact the crime and their loss has on their lives, not just in the weeks, month, or year after their loss, but for the rest of their lives.

Victims’ Commissioner The Rt Hon Baroness Helen Newlove of Warrington, whose husband Garry was murdered by three youths in 2007 after confronting a gang of drunken youths who were vandalising her car, spoke passionately about the need for a planned new ‘Victims of Crime Law’  to ‘have teeth’.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling says it will give crime victims in England and Wales legal rights for the first time, ensuring they are kept informed about their case, and include the entitlement tell a sentencing judge and offender in court how a crime has impacted on their life through a personal victim’s statement.

Given a recent case, where a judge was overheard saying the personal statement of the parents of a man murdered in 2001 made ‘no difference at all’ as to whether one the murderers could move to an open prison, it is a particularly topical issue.

Describing the ‘traumatic’ and ‘harrowing’ nature of making such statements, Baroness Newlove called for them to be ‘taken very seriously’, saying they must always be read out in full.

“Offenders’ rights are really powerful, we want victims’ rights to be powerful too, they can’t be diluted by law,” said Baroness Newlove, who also called for compensation to be paid in advance to victims’ families, and not ‘in dribs and drabs’

‘The victims I meet feel confused, dismissed and traumatised because of failings of people to do their jobs and support them.  It is important victims are put first, and whilst I welcome the Victims’ Law, it must be right. It must have teeth.”

It was hard to disagree with a word she said.  A victim is defined as a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or any other event or action.

Whatever has made them a victim, it is not something they have chosen to be. They deserve to be heard, helped, and supported fully.

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03/10/2014 No Comments

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