The Isle of Man remains the safest place to live in the British Isles, according to crime performance statistics contained in the Chief Constable’s Annual Report.
Recorded crime increased by 9% (194 offences), during the 12 months from 01 April 2014 to 31 March 2015, compared with the 35-year low registered in 2013-14. The main contributing factors were a spate of domestic burglaries, a series of 40 linked criminal damage offences and a more rigorous interpretation of crime counting rules.
The total of 2,304 recorded crimes was the third lowest in the past 30 years, while data collected over the first half of the 2015-16 policing year points to the crime figures remaining at this low level.
The overall detection rate achieved by the Isle of Man Constabulary stood at 43.9%, which is far superior to that registered by the 44 forces in England and Wales. The detection rate for burglary is also well above the England and Wales average. Public satisfaction with the Manx police is high at 88% and the number of formal complaints low at 15.
The Chief Constable’s report, which will be laid before the October sitting of Tynwald, highlights a number of positive trends, including a sustained reduction in anti-social behaviour and the second lowest number of non-domestic assaults recorded this century. It also reinforces the Isle of Man Constabulary’s commitment to investigate every reported crime.
Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK said:
‘The Isle of Man remains a very safe place and its crime levels are still the lowest of any British jurisdiction. Recorded crime has fallen by more than 50% on the figures witnessed just a decade ago and is substantially lower than the United Kingdom levels, even when judged against the safest counties in England and Wales.’
‘I recognise that those feelings of safety were affected by the spike in domestic burglaries at the beginning of the year, but the effectiveness of the Constabulary should not be defined solely by one set of crime statistics. To put the situation into perspective, as recently as 1993 the Island experienced more than 800 burglaries.’
‘Modern policing involves a diverse and complex range of public protection issues, including preventative work at neighbourhood level, the protection of young and vulnerable people and work to combat cyber-crime. Our police are continuing to deliver a quality service against the backdrop of financial constraint and major restructuring. The organisation has responded positively to change and I am confident that our robust approach to budget management will support a period of consolidation over the next two to three years. As I have stated previously, I believe the Constabulary’s budget is now at an irreducible level.’
In his report, Chief Constable Gary Roberts highlights the operational and financial challenges faced by the police, in addition to the many important issues that need to be addressed in future.
He says the security of our borders represents the biggest threat to national safety and urges action to prevent the Island remaining a soft target for travelling criminals. Other significant matters affecting modern policing and the wellbeing of the Manx public include dealing with people who are mentally ill, or who are dependent on alcohol or drugs, investigating financial crime, promoting road safety and officer recruitment.
The report provides an insight into the extensive operational response to the spate of almost 60 domestic burglaries committed in January and February.
The Chief Constable said:
‘The burglaries were carried out by professional criminals, who showed the greatest level of forensic awareness that the Constabulary has encountered. The offences were brazen, professional and alarming, and were unprecedented in modern times for the Isle of Man. The burglars also exploited the fact that many people in the Island are not security conscious.’
Although two arrests were made, there was insufficient evidence to launch a prosecution. However, the actions of the police successfully disrupted the criminals who are thought to be responsible for a number of similar offences in the UK.
The investigation into the burglaries occurred during a period that also witnessed the wholesale overhaul of the number and deployment of officers, a reorganisation of the police estate and changes to the tactics used to keep the Island safe.
The Chief Constable said:
‘The year was a challenging one, dominated by high levels of operational demand and a major restructuring of the Constabulary to meet new and difficult budgetary targets. We are now doing more with considerably less. Cuts have consequences, but our aims are to provide first class neighbourhood policing and to stop the evil trade in drugs.’
‘Despite the tightness of our budget, the Constabulary remains committed to investigating every crime that is reported to it. We will continue to work hard to protect vulnerable members of the community and to safeguard the quality of life the Isle of Man is rightly proud of.’
A copy of the Chief Constable’s Annual Report 2014-15 is available to view.