The Isle of Man remains the safest place to live in the British Isles, according to statistics contained in the Chief Constable’s Annual Report.
The number of recorded crimes in 2016-17 was the third lowest in the past 40 years, less than half the total witnessed a decade ago and approximately one third of UK levels, even when judged against the safest counties in England and Wales.
Headline achievements include exceptionally low levels of traditional crime, with non-domestic burglaries the lowest on record – 30 compared with more than 400 in the early 1990s – and just three offences of robbery recorded.
The crime detection rate of 46.9% is far superior to the UK average, while confidence in the Isle of Man Constabulary remains high, with the results of an independently verified survey showing a public satisfaction rating above 90%.
A total of 2,176 crimes were recorded during the 12 months from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017, an increase of 11% compared with the previous policing year and up 2% against the three-year average. More than half of the additional 208 offences can be attributed to a rise in the number of arrests for possession of cannabis.
Chief Constable Gary Roberts said:
‘The Isle of Man is the safest of the large British Isles. The Constabulary has successfully protected vulnerable people, increased its drug seizures, prosecuted dangerous sex offenders and continues to be ambitious in terms of its development.’
Regarding the routine seizure of cannabis, especially when dealing with young people, he added:
‘Drugs policy is a matter for our politicians, but the current situation ought not to continue. The Island needs a new drug and alcohol strategy based on evidence and which focuses on health aspects as well as enforcement.’
The annual report, to be laid before the July sitting of Tynwald, says the police should not be judged purely on statistics. Crime accounts for about 20% of overall demand, with officers tackling an increasingly complex range of vulnerability and public protection matters.
While the Chief Constable reflects on a year of considerable operational achievement, he also provides an honest assessment of the challenges facing the Constabulary. This includes the difficult decisions that have to be made to juggle competing demands with limited resources. The report explains that investigations of sexual offences and financial crime often take priority over proactive work to disrupt the importation and supply of drugs.
The Chief Constable also points to a slight upturn in incidents of anti-social behaviour, particularly in Douglas, Onchan and Peel, as a consequence of the reduction in frontline services. In response, he says the neighbourhood policing teams will seek to prioritise the tackling of vandalism, nuisance and noise in the year ahead, as such issues impact on the quality of life enjoyed in our towns and villages.
The report adds that modern policing continues to evolve, with work to meet international standards in respect of combatting financial crime, money laundering and the financing of terrorism highlighted as ‘by far the biggest challenge faced by the Constabulary during the year.’
On a positive note, it is expected that the introduction of a new core IT system will transform the way the Constabulary works by reducing bureaucracy and freeing officers to spend more time in the communities they serve. This is a key part of a wider strategy to support a modern, digitally-enabled police force that uses technology to predict, prevent and respond to crime.
The Chief Constable also pays tribute to the quality, professionalism and dedication of his staff, while recognising problems in relation to recruitment, training and development, and the retirement of senior officers.
‘The Constabulary is blessed with great people who genuinely care about what they do and the community they serve. I am proud to be the Chief Constable of such a forward-thinking and caring organisation.’
Home Affairs Minister Bill Malarkey MHK commented:
‘Feeling safe in our homes at night and as we go about our daily lives is a fundamental part of what makes the Isle of Man such a special place to live and work. The Chief Constable is to be commended for leading a team that continues to keep crime at historically low levels.
‘The annual report pulls no punches about the financial and organisational risks facing the police and I will work with the Chief Constable as he responds to these challenges in the time ahead.’