Police have failed to solve a single burglary in neighborhoods in nearly half of England and Wales over the past three years, official data shows.
An analysis of police data from 30,100 neighborhoods found that 48.2 percent had no burglaries solved in the three years ending March 2023, prompting warnings that burglaries have been decriminalized in parts of the country.
More than 80 burglaries have gone unsolved in the past three years in each of the three worst neighborhoods in Hampshire, South Yorkshire and South East London.
The figures come ahead of this week’s annual report by Andy Cooke, His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Police, who has warned that failure to stop burglars and thieves threatens the police’s relationship of trust with the public.
The data includes the time since England and Wales’ 43 chief constables pledged last October that their officers would visit the site of any break-in, though most troops ruled out outbuildings, sheds or garages.
The numbers are unchanged since The Telegraph conducted a similar exercise last June.
Rick Muir, director of the Police Foundation, Britain’s independent policing think tank, said they have shown the police have a “long way to go” to restore public confidence following a collapse in national rates for burglary, a decrease of one in 14 (6.7 percent). ) in 2016 to less than one in 25 (3.9 percent) by 2022.
“It is fair to say that in some parts of the country there are certain types of crime, in this case burglary, that have been decriminalized because there is absolutely no consequence,” he said.
“One thing you know from the research on offenses 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 get caught.
“What demonstrably influences the chance of a violation is the chance that you will be caught. If your detection rates are this low, it means there is no 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: “Any burglary that goes unsolved means it will happen again. Burglary is undoubtedly a serial crime. That’s what the police always told me.”
Deputy Chief Constable Alex Franklin-Smith, the leader of the National Police Chiefs’ Council on burglary, said burglaries had reached an all-time low.
“We will continue to prioritize preventing these crimes, targeting repeat offenders and organized crime groups and solving as many burglaries as possible,” he said.
“All forces are now in a position to fulfill last year’s commitment by police chiefs to attend all home burglaries. Many forces have special burglary teams to identify links between burglaries and find the evidence to charge offenders.”
A neighborhood is defined as approximately 1,500 people or 650 households. Of the 30,100 properties analysed, no burglaries had been solved in 14,505 in the past three years. Of these, about half – 7,776 – had 10 or more unresolved.
Of the 30,100, only 61 had not reported a break-in. The most burgled areas were Leeds city center (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 areas with the highest number of unsolved burglaries 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).
“It’s all nice, nice on the phone”
A New Forest resident in one of the worst areas had stolen items she’d brought from holiday after burglars cut her gate’s carriage locks, waking her terrified in the middle of the night.
After filling out an online form, she heard nothing from the police about her case.
“What stops people from doing it? They know we have to refill and they can do it again,” she said.
“What is the deterrent? Electric gates, security lighting, stuff is padlocked… and they’re still around.
“It’s all nice, nice on the phone, ‘do you want advice?’ But when you hear that all your neighbors are being picked off one by one, you think: ‘no, I’d rather not be robbed’.”
Rodney Broad, 64, another victim, said he will never trust South Yorkshire police again because of the way they handled a £10,000 burglary at his garage in Doncaster.
Mr. Broad, who lives behind the business, received a text message at around 2am on a Sunday that his alarm system had detected intruders.
He and son Liam, 32, stormed there barefoot and caught the burglars red-handed looting cigarette machines with crowbars
“I threw a lock at the other guy. I called 999 but was told to call 101 because they had left the premises,” said Mr. Broad.
The cigarettes, worth £10,000, were recovered, but both burglars fled. They were never caught and caused £2,500 worth of damage.
Mr Broad added: “It took 40 minutes to get through to the 101 number and the police only showed up for over an hour.
“Thirty hours later, despite calling three times, I still hadn’t heard from them. If they showed up when they should have, they would have caught them. I am sorely disappointed. They are just shocking. I would rate their response as one out of ten.
“When you call 999, you expect an immediate response, especially when they’re still on the scene, threatening us with the crowbars they’d used to break open the cigarette cases. They never contacted us once. There were no updates. I have absolutely no faith in the police.
“I would think twice about calling 999 because it has fallen on deaf ears and you might as well take the law into your own hands because the police won’t help you one iota.”
A spokesman for the Home Office said: “The Home Secretary has already made it clear to police chiefs that troops must attend all home burglaries and expects them to fulfill their pledge to do so, supported by an additional 20,000 police officers.”
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