The chairman of the Police Federation has warned that police are reluctant to talk to journalists because of the “fear factor” in the wake of the Leveson report.
Steve Williams has spoken out in the wake of figures which showed the number of offences recorded by police last year fell by 8 per cent to 3.7m. The National Crime Survey suggests crime fell by 5 per cent to 8.9m offences.
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According to the Daily Mail, Williams said: “The latest crime figures showed a 5 per cent fall in crime but, based on the anecdotes I’m getting, I am not sure that is the case. Pressure is being brought to bear on frontline officers on the way they are recording crime.
“Cops are very reluctant to speak to the media and say how it really is. Some chief officers have imposed almost a gagging order on their staff. I do not think the true story is getting out because of the ‘fear factor’ in the wake of Leveson about the effect going public would have on officers’ careers."
In February last year detective chief inspector April Casburn was jailed for 15 months after calling the News of the World to raise concerns that anti-terrorism resources were being wasted on the hacking inquiry. A jury decided that her motive was financial.
Numerous police officers have been arrested in recent months on suspicion of selling stories to The Sun.
Two senior police officers have been arrested as a result of contacts with journalists where no money changed hands.
Meanwhile, police forces around the country are facing complaints over a culture of secrecy surrounding arrests.
The Association of Chief Police Officers has said it favours the naming of suspects only once they have been charged.
But in high-profile sex-attack cases, the naming of suspects at the arrest stage has led to more witnesses coming forward. This was the case with Stuart Hall. Hundreds of alleged victims of Jimmy Savile only came forward after his name was made public.
Lord Justice Leveson suggested in his report that police whistleblowers should not go to journalists, but instead to another body such as the Indepenendent Police Complaints Commission. He also said that ACPO rank officers should keep a record of all contact with the media.