Police failed to solve a single burglary in HALF of  neighbourhoods

Police failed to solve a single burglary in HALF of English and Welsh neighbourhoods over the last three years, data reveal amid warnings of ‘no consequences’ for committing crime

  • Burglary has become decriminalised in some parts of the country, says thinktank
  • Expert says failure to stop burglars threatens the police and public ‘bond of trust’

Police have failed to solve a single burglary in neighbourhoods across nearly half of England and Wales in the past three years, amid warnings the offence is being decriminalised.  

An analysis of police data from 30,100 neighbourhoods found that in 48.2 per cent, no break-ins had been solved in the three years ending March 2023.

It comes ahead of an official report by Andy Cooke, His Majesty’s chief inspector of constabulary, who has warned the failure to stop burglars and thieves threatens the police’s bond of trust with the public.

More than 80 burglaries remained unsolved over the three years in each of the three worst neighbourhoods in Hampshire, south Yorkshire and south-east London.

The data include the time since England and Wales’s 43 chief constables pledged last October that their officers would visit the scene of every burglary, although most forces exclude outbuildings, sheds or garages.

There are concerns that the police have decriminalised burglaries in some parts of the country

Rick Muir, director at the Police Foundation, Britain’s independent police thinktank, said they demonstrated police had a ‘long way to go’ to restore public confidence after a collapse in national charging rates for burglary, down from one in 14 (6.7 per cent) in 2016 to less than one in 25 (3.9 per cent) in 2022.

‘It is fair to say that in some parts of the country, there are some crime types – in this case, burglary – that have become decriminalised because there is absolutely no consequence to committing the crime,’ he told the Telegraph.

‘One thing you know about offending from the research is that the length of the sentence doesn’t deter thieves. They don’t think about the length of the sentence because they don’t think they will be caught.

‘What is proven to affect the likelihood of offending is the chance that you may be caught. If you have detection rates so low, it means that there is not an effective deterrent to committing these crimes. That is a big problem.’

Dame Vera Baird, former victims’ commissioner, police and crime commissioner and solicitor general, said: ‘Every burglary that is not solved means it is going to happen again. Without any doubt, burglary is a serial offence. That’s what the police were always telling me.’

Deputy Chief Constable Alex Franklin-Smith, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for burglary, said the number of burglaries was at an all-time low.

‘We will continue to prioritise preventing these offences, targeting repeat offenders and organised crime groups and solving as many burglaries as we can,’ he said.

‘All forces are now able to fulfil the commitment made last year by police chiefs to attend all residential burglaries. Many forces have dedicated burglary teams to identify links between burglaries and find the evidence that enables offenders to be charged.’

A neighbourhood is defined as having about 1,500 people or 650 households. Of the 30,100 analysed by the Telegraph, 14,505 had no burglaries solved over the three years. Of these, about half – 7,776 – had 10 or more unsolved.

Of the 30,100, just 61 had reported no burglaries. The most burgled areas were Leeds city centre (446, 70.2 per cent unsolved), Fitzrovia West and Soho (405, 91.6 per cent unsolved) and Cathedral Quarter, Derby (353, 89 per cent).

The neighbourhoods with the highest number where no burglaries were solved were Lyndhurst and Minstead in the New Forest (84), Balby Carr in Doncaster (83), Greenwich Town and Park, London (82), Woodgate Valley, Birmingham (79) and Kensington in Liverpool (78).

A New Forest resident in one of the worst areas had items she brought back from holiday stolen after burglars cut through the coach locks of her gate, waking her up terrified in the middle of the night.

After filling out an online form, she heard nothing from the police about her case.

Another victim said he will never trust South Yorkshire Police again over the way they handled a £10,000 burglary at his garage in Doncaster.

The man and his son caught the burglars red-handed but when they rang 999 the police failed to turn up in time to arrest the intruders.

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales domestic burglary is down 51% since 2010.

‘The Home Secretary has already made clear to Police Chiefs that forces should attend all domestic burglaries and expects them to deliver on their pledge to do this, backed by an additional 20,000 police officers.’

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