‘Burglary and theft are not minor offences’: Crime victims are being let down by police as new data shows just 3.7% of house raids and 6.6% of robberies result in a charge, devastating report reveals
- 3.7% of burglaries, 4.2% of thefts, 6.6% of robberies result in charge, data shows
- Ch Insp Andy Cooke says victims ‘aren’t getting justice they deserve’ in report
- And argues for a ‘back-to-basics’ approach amid fears that sloppy investigations
The vast majority of burglary victims are being let down by the police, a damning report finds today.
Officers are ‘missing opportunities’ to catch suspects from the moment crimes are reported, it concludes.
The latest Home Office figures show that just 3.7 per cent of burglaries, 4.2 per cent of thefts and 6.6 per cent of robberies result in a charge. Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke says these are ‘not minor crimes’ and they ‘strike at the heart of how safe people feel in their own homes and communities’.
He said the low charging rates were damaging confidence in the police and has ordered a ‘back-to-basics’ approach amid fears that sloppy investigations mean victims ‘aren’t getting the justice they deserve’.
The low charging rates are ‘unacceptable and unsustainable’, according to a devastating audit by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.
Its bombshell report comes amid increasing concern that police are putting too much focus on ‘woke’ issues and not enough on crimes that shatter people’s lives.
The report found success rates for securing charges on burglaries, thefts and robberies varied wildly from force to force, creating an unacceptable ‘postcode lottery’ for victims. It pointed to a national detective shortage and a large number of inexperienced officers as contributing factors.
Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke says these are ‘not minor crimes’ and they ‘strike at the heart of how safe people feel in their own homes and communities’
The report also cited pressure on 999 call handlers, meaning some gathered only the bare minimum of information from victims.
Inspectors found that in 71 per cent of burglary reports, call handlers failed to give victims any advice on crime scene preservation – meaning vital forensic evidence could be lost.
Mr Cooke said: ‘A lack of experienced officers means that too often, these crimes are being investigated poorly and are not adequately supervised – often because supervisors themselves are inexperienced and overstretched.’
Almost a third of officers in England and Wales have less than five years’ experience but in a third of cases there was insufficient supervision, the report says, resulting in missed opportunities including intelligence gathering and linking cases.
Some forces can take six months to return fingerprint identifications, which can rule out prosecutions in magistrates’ courts due to statutory time limits – rendering an entire investigation useless.
The latest Home Office figures show that just 3.7 per cent of burglaries, 4.2 per cent of thefts and 6.6 per cent of robberies result in a charge (stock image)
And compliance with the code of practice for victims – the minimum standard victims should expect – was inadequate in almost half of investigations, the audit found.
No prosecutions for sham marriage couples in 4 years
Hundreds of people who have used a sham marriage to stay in Britain have avoided prosecution and remain in the country, an investigation has found.
Nobody who has exploited settlement rules in this way has been removed in the past two years and there has not been a single prosecution since 2018.
At least 365 couples have tried to fraudulently exploit a post-Brexit scheme which gives EU citizens and their spouses the right to remain in the UK, according to figures obtained by BBC News.
The EU Settlement Scheme allowed European Union citizens, their spouses and relatives to continue to live in the UK after Britain’s departure from the union if they were resident by December 2020 and applied for permission to stay. Spouses from any country, including non-EU states, were eligible to apply.
But at least 365 marriages between an EU and a non-EU national were found to be a sham between March 2018 and the end of September last year.
Albania had the most of any country with 146 people involved, Freedom of Information figures show.
Some entered into the arrangement for money, with organised criminal gangs often facilitating the union.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘As the public rightly expects, we take abuse of the spouse and partner immigration routes very seriously and to suggest otherwise is wrong. We will not hesitate to take enforcement action against individuals found to be in a sham marriage or civil partnership including …removing them from the UK.’
Mr Cooke said: ‘There needs to be a concerted drive to address this issue because it directly affects the public’s confidence in the police’s ability to keep them safe. At the moment, depending on where in England and Wales they live, some victims are more likely than others to get a thorough investigation from their force. This postcode lottery can’t be justified.’
Mr Cooke said simple measures – such as visiting a burglary victim in person – could go a long way in reassuring the public that the police were taking action. Among the report’s recommendations are that forces should ensure crime-scene management practices are brought up to the recommended standard by next March.
Forces should also ensure that supervisors have the capability and capacity to properly oversee investigations.
Burglaries, thefts and robberies increased by 24 per cent between March 2017 and September 2019.
There was a reduction from 2020 driven by lockdown but inspectors expect to see an increase in the post-pandemic figures.
The report also highlighted the devastation caused by reoffending criminals, who create £18.1 billion in economic and social costs each year.
Of this, £9.3 billion is from theft offences committed by adults.
Deputy chief constable Amanda Blakeman, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said the report highlighted gaps in service while acknowledging the demands on officers.
Increased demand on forces had led to the prioritisation of cases with a realistic prospect of conviction, she added. ‘Police can, and do, use alternatives outcomes like cautions or restorative justice where it is appropriate to do so,’ she said. ‘We will always prioritise attending home burglaries and provide support to those victims who may be particularly vulnerable, such as the isolated elderly.
‘Chief constables will always have to make difficult operational decisions, including the dispatching of officers, based on an assessment of the level of threat and risk.’
Chief constable Andy Marsh, chief executive of the College of Policing, said the report was right to recommend the full adoption of national standards on managing investigations for burglary, robbery and theft.
‘Only by taking a consistent approach will we fully protect the public and not let burglars off the hook,’ he added.