olice have failed to attend 4.3 million reports of anti-social behaviour since 2019, the Liberal Democrats claimed as the deadline for the Government’s manifesto pledge to hire 20,000 more officers looms.
Leader Sir Ed Davey accused the Tories of “empty promises” as the party said its research showed about 75% of incidents did not result in a call-out to the scene in some areas.
The Lib Dems obtained data through freedom of information requests sent to 45 police forces across the UK, 38 of which responded.
Of these, the worst performers in 2022 were Avon & Somerset and Cambridgeshire – with 81% and 80% of anti-social behaviour reports going unattended respectively, according to the party.
It’s clear this Government has lost control of anti-social behaviour – and it’s only getting worse
Police in the local area of Hertfordshire also failed to attend almost three in four reports – 75% – of incidents last year, the Lib Dems said.
More than 2,000 a day went unattended by officers last year, according to the party’s analysis.
The data has been highlighted as parties compete to focus on law and order in a bid to snap up votes in the local elections next month.
It also comes as the Government waits to discover if it has achieved its pledge to hire 20,000 police officers in England and Wales – a target the Lib Dems predict the Government will fall short of.
Figures published in January showed that more than 3,000 police extra officers needed to be recruited in less than three months in order to meet the target.
Sir Ed said: “It’s clear this Government has lost control of anti-social behaviour – and it’s only getting worse.
“Too many communities are being plagued by anti-social behaviour, with criminals being allowed to act with impunity while victims are left afraid to walk down their own street.
“People should be able to feel that if they fall victim to anti-social behaviour, it will be taken seriously and police will attend.
“Instead of more empty promises, it’s time for the Government to finally commit to proper community policing – where offices are visible, trusted, and able to tackle neighbourhood crime. It cannot wait any longer.”
The Government insisted it remains confident that it will meet its manifesto pledge to have delivered 20,000 new officers by the end of March 2023, but said the data is yet to be finalised.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “There is no such thing as petty crime – anti-social behaviour causes misery to neighbourhoods up and down the country and is often a gateway into committing other serious crimes, which is why we have launched our Antisocial Behaviour Action Plan.
“We are supporting the police with record funding to protect the public and clamp down on crime, and recent Crime Survey figures show that neighbourhood crime has decreased by 22% since March 2020.
“And although we await the final data, we remain confident we will have delivered on the government’s manifesto commitment to recruit 20,000 additional officers by the end of March 2023.”
A Cambridgeshire Constabulary spokesperson said: “Anti-social behaviour is a priority for many of our neighbourhood policing teams across Cambridgeshire and our officers are working hard to tackle it as we know it is something people really want us to focus on.
“Our officers increase patrols in affected areas, carry out covert work and work alongside our partners to tackle the wider issues.
“These areas include Peterborough, Cambridge City, Cambourne in the south of the county, Ely, Littleport and Bottisham in the east of the county and Wisbech in Fenland.”
They added the force is “committed” to reducing anti-social behaviour across the country and urged the public to report any incidents.