THE number of arrests made by police in Merseyside has nearly HALVED in the last decade.

Data from the Home Office shows that Merseyside Police carried out 23,214 arrests in the year to March, compared with 41,438 in 2007-08.

The tally for the latest 12-month period was 7% down on the previous year.

“This continues the downward trend seen since a peak in the year ending March 2008,” a government report said.

The reduction comes at a time when police are recording rising numbers of crimes across a number of categories including violent, knife-related and sexual offences.

Data released last week showed that Merseyside Police registered 128,712 crimes in the 12 months to June, an increase of 12% on the previous year.

So why are there fewer arrests?

Policing cuts

Since 2010, the number of officers, PCSOs and staff serving the people of Merseyside has been cut by nearly a quarter, yet the demand on the service continues to grow with calls for help increasing and crime becoming more complex.

And the force could lose another 300 officers if a controversial pension bill is pushed through by government.

Officers are dealing with offenders in different ways

Assistant Chief Constable Julie Cooke said: “Merseyside Police and other forces are increasingly looking to utilise a wide range of options in dealing with offenders, not just by way of arrests.

“For example, the number of people who voluntarily attend police stations for interviews has remained stable over the past few years.

“We also make greater use of restorative justice to rehabilitate and reconcile offenders in the community; and will issue cautions and fixed penalty notices for more minor offences, for example in some cases of cannabis possession.”

Are we still safe?

Julie Cooke continued: “We are currently seeing an increase in arrests per month in Merseyside, from 2,225 last year to 2,510 this year.

“Offences which have seen an increase include domestic-related assaults and theft, and the ongoing success of Operation Castle, the force’s response to burglary, is also driving this increase.

“Day in day out, our officers and staff work tirelessly to provide the best possible policing service to the communities of Merseyside, with the resources available.

“We will continue to use all available methods of dealing with offenders to keep the communities of Merseyside safe.”

Merseyside’s Deputy Police Commissioner Cllr Emily Spurrell added: “Despite challenges, we continue to conduct effective operations including the recent crackdown on burglaries having a significant impact.

“This demonstrates the Force’s continual commitment to ensuring offenders who put our communities at risk are taken off the streets.”