Third of people have 'not seen a bobby on the beat'

Met Police officer Image copyright METROPOLITAN POLICE

More than a third of people in England and Wales have not seen a bobby on the beat for a year, research suggests.

A survey of 26,000 people, carried out for HM Inspector of Constabulary, found 36% had not seen a police officer on patrol over a period of 12 months.

Another 23% said they had seen police on foot only once or twice over a year.

The public perception of police was "vitally important" in having the confidence to report crime, HM Inspector Mike Cunningham said.

"We will continue to work with forces to improve the way in which they engage with members of the public to ensure that people are confident in reporting crime," he added.

Anti-social behaviour

The study, conducted last summer but published for the first time on Wednesday, was carried out by Ipsos Mori on behalf of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary to monitor public views of policing.

The research also found that:

  • Those living in the most deprived neighbourhoods are more likely to report having seen a uniformed police presence on foot
  • Twenty-six percent of respondents reported seeing a police office in a car in their area at least once a week
  • Three times more people are satisfied than dissatisfied with local policing - 52% versus 17% - though ratings of policing trail most other local public services
  • Age has an impact on feelings of safety with 33% of 16-24 year olds feel unsafe, compared with 21% of those aged 65 and over
  • Nationally, the majority feel that crime and anti-social behaviour is not much of a problem (62%), while a further one in 10 do not consider it a problem at all (10%).
  • A quarter of respondents believe that crime and anti-social behaviour is a big problem in their local area (25%).

The study questioned people aged over 16 years across the 43 police forces in England and Wales, between 15 July and 6 August 2015.

Mr Cunningham added: "We commissioned this survey in order to inform our inspection programme and have already begun to use these findings to inform the questions we ask of police forces."

The BBC has asked the Home Office for a response.

Last October, chairwoman of the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) Sara Thornton, and Craig Mackey, deputy commissioner of the Met Police, said the era of routine patrols by "bobbies on the beat" had come to an end.

They also said funding cuts would lead to a transformation in investigating crime, but the Home Office said at the time police reform was working and crime was falling.

Police budgets in England and Wales were protected in real terms in the former Chancellor George Osborne's Spending Review last November.

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