Police Neglected to Solve Any Break-Ins in Three Years Across Half of UK, Investigation Shows
08:31 GMT 20.06.2022 (Updated: 09:45 GMT 20.06.2022)
Experts have been warning that unless UK police are committed to duly investigating every burglary case in the country, there is a risk that offenders might feel they can commit these offences “with impunity.”
Burglars evaded justice in neighborhoods covering nearly half the UK throughout the past three years, a Telegraph investigation discovered. The findings have also suggested that break-ins are not being regarded as a policing
After data pertaining to cases in over 32,000 neighborhoods was analyzed, it was revealed that 16,000 of them, or 46 percent, had their burglaries for that period closed without any suspects apprehended or charged.
Furthermore, records showed that while almost 2,000 of the neighborhoods surveyed had recorded at least 25 burglaries, not a single case resulted in a charge.
The situation appeared to be the worst in Parson Cross neighborhood, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, where police failed to solve a single one of its 104 burglaries in three years. There were 99 unsolved break-in cases in New Arley and Fillongley, Warwickshire.
The outlet cites UK Home Office data revealing that police have not solved more than one million burglaries over the past six years. The figures point to the proportion of offences resulting in a charge had plummeted 40 percent - from one in 15 registered in 2016, to one in 25 last year.
Rural areas appeared to show the most deplorable rate of solved burglaries. Out of 6,361 rural neighborhoods with break-in cases, 3,874 (61 percent) had none solved. In urban areas the figure was 41 percent.
The investigation also revealed some bizarre incidents. For example, in Leicestershire police did not fully investigate break-ins at odd-numbered houses, by all accounts out of cost-saving concerns. Another curious case in point was Norfolk, where Artificial Intelligence (AI) was purportedly used to measure
“solvability” of cases based on 29 factors, such as forensics, CCTV and crime site location.
Weighing in on the findings, Vera Baird, the British barrister serving as Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales, warned of the long-term consequences of police failing to properly investigate burglaries.
“It is critical that victims have confidence that the crimes they report are investigated and that offenders do not feel they can commit these offences with impunity,” she said.
The findings come as burglary appears to no longer be regarded as a policing priority. Some forces have stopped routinely dispatching an officer to investigate such crimes, writes the outlet.
As break-ins are often not accompanied by any physical injury, ruling out the need for “emergency” response, in cases where there is no CCTV or forensic evidence, burglaries are often closed within hours.
However, experts disagree with this approach.
“Burglary can be a high impact crime. Victims can feel violated by the experience and their sense of security severely shaken. Despite this, burglary has not been regarded as a policing priority. Some have instead introduced schemes to 'screen' crimes to decide if they are likely to be solved. If not, they are not fully investigated,” Vera Baird said.
In a positive development, the report cites the government’s recruitment of 20,000 extra officers amid a push for police to visit the scene of every burglary.
Andy Cooke, the new HM Chief Inspector of Police, was cited as deploring the inadequate focus on proactively targeting criminals. The importance of reaching a break-in scene quickly or preserving forensic evidence were emphasized.
“Where we have seen the best results across the country are where there are teams specifically set up to combat those sorts of crimes. Some of the good practice is very much linked into that, where the focus is targeting those offenders,” Andy Cooke said.
Echoing this stance, Kit Malthouse, Minister of State for Crime and Policing at the UK Home Office, was quoted as saying:
“I want to see forces being more proactive in both preventing and solving these cases to give the public confidence that they are doing the job. Crimes like theft and burglary have a profound impact on victims, so sending a police officer in person to every single domestic burglary is key to catching those responsible.”