Speed Reads

Police patrols ‘cut violent crime by more than 70%’

Latest data suggests old-school ‘bobbies on the beat’ still play key role in modern policing

Just 15 minutes of police patrols can reduce levels of violent crime by more than 70%, according to a new study.

The Youth Endowment Fund analysis of an Essex Police pilot in Southend-on-Sea in summer 2020 found that violent crime fell by 74% on days when patrols took place.

Other patrol schemes have got similar results. Operation Rowan in Bedfordshire “involved patrols of 15 minutes each day in 30 hotspot areas where a third of the county’s serious violent crime was taking place”, said The Times’ crime editor Fiona Hamilton.The patrols were credited for a 38% reduction in violence and robbery.

West Midlands police reported a 14% drop in street crimes and antisocial behaviour following patrols in Birmingham.

While forces nationwide are spending more money on “the latest artificial intelligence to predict crime patterns”, the findings “underline the effectiveness of old-fashioned policing”, wrote Hamilton. 

The analysis by the Youth Endowment Fund, which works to stop young people becoming involved in violence, suggested that patrols in crime hotspots resulted in significant drops in wider crime too, and fewer calls to emergency services.

“Hot spots policing” – which focuses policing resources and activities on locations where crime is most concentrated – “can also make a difference in the surrounding areas”, said UK law enforcement journal Police Professional.

The data “boosts” arguments by new Metropolitan Police commissioner Mark Rowley, who takes over in autumn, that the UK needs “more bobbies on the beat”, said The Times’ Hamilton. In his first public statement after landing the role in the scandal-hit force, the former head of UK counterterrorism policing pledged to “fight crime with communities – not unilaterally dispense tactics”.

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