At 10 p.m. on Monday, August 22, Cheryl Korbel was at home in Liverpool when Joseph Nee, a convicted burglar recently released on license (roughly equivalent to the American concept of parole), burst through her front door, followed by an unidentified gun-wielding individual in a balaclava. In the minutes that followed, the masked assailant fired two rounds. One hit Cheryl in the wrist and the other fatally injured her nine-year-old daughter Olivia. The gunman then fired twice at Nee, injuring him before fleeing. It was the third fatal shooting in a week in the Merseyside region.
Violent crime, including murder and assault, has been steadily increasing in this area of northwest England. The year ending in March saw 28,000 violent crimes recorded in Merseyside, up from 4,500 a decade ago, according to official figures. In total, at least 14 people have been killed in the first eight months of 2022.
The situation is similar across the country. A gang of 50 youths recently ransacked and looted a McDonald’s in Nottingham, jumping over the counter to steal food and drinks. In Leeds, masked men armed with four-foot-long machetes and samurai swords fought with one another in a gang-warfare incident.
Public safety is said to be one of the foundational principles of the British justice system. Today, that premise seems shaky at best. Take the case of Joshua Carney. In February, authorities paroled the Welshman after he had served part of a jail sentence for committing a series of burglaries in 2017. Carney has 47 prior convictions. Less than a week after his release, he forced his way into a Cardiff house, locking a terrified woman inside. When her 14-year-old daughter heard her distress, she came downstairs. Carney proceeded to rape both the mother and the daughter. Last week, Carney was jailed for “life,” which means he’ll be up for parole in ten years.
It feels like the U.K. has emerged from its Covid-induced slumber to find that crime itself has been decriminalized. Consider the data for less serious offenses, such as burglary. Of the 21,000 neighborhoods in England and Wales that suffered at least one burglary in the past three years, police failed to solve even a single case in 17,000 of those areas—a failure rate of 84 percent.
A generation ago, the typical police recruit was a tough, straight-talking ex-serviceman or security guard in need of a better-paid job. Now, the vast majority are university graduates. Considering academia’s political leanings, is it any wonder that these graduates take a knee at BLM demonstrations or go easy on disorderly climate protesters? Last month, Lincolnshire police were filmed dancing the Macarena at a Pride festival.
It would be wrong to lay all the blame on wokeism, though. The police are chronically understaffed. Priti Patel, the U.K.’s former home secretary, touts the additional 10,000 police officers she put on the streets, with another 10,000 coming soon. But given large cuts to police funding in 2010, these new hires will barely bring the police ranks up to par.
While the police waste time and resources recording non-crime hate incidents against people who hurt others’ feelings, they lack the means to investigate all but the most serious of crimes. Recorded crime in England and Wales is at a 20-year high, and just 6 percent of cases resulted in anyone being charged or issued a summons in 2021–2022—a 10 percent drop from 2014–2015.
With the streets of our major cities looking like scenes from The Purge, the public increasingly senses that the police have given up. According to recent data, only 57 percent of Londoners have confidence that the Met can be relied upon.
There is a darker side to the issue of public trust in the police. Wayne Couzens, a cop convicted of the murder of Sarah Everard, was known to his police colleagues as “The Rapist,” allegedly for his taste for violent porn. Everard was walking home in south London when Couzens pulled her over on suspicion of breaking Covid-19 regulations. Then, abusing his trust as an officer, he kidnapped her, drove to a secluded location, and raped and strangled her before burning her body and disposing of her remains in a pond. The 33-year-old Everard was the 16th woman to be killed by a serving or retired police officer over the last 13 years. Meantime, for more than a decade, police turned a blind eye to the collectivized rape of young white working-class girls by men of predominantly Pakistani origin due to fears of inflaming social division.
A functioning criminal justice system should keep the public safe from criminals, backed up with the threat of imprisonment for the most dangerous crimes. Without additional funding and police reform, Britain risks the de facto decriminalization of all crime.