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‘Stop fobbing off crime victims’: Former watchdog says police should focus on catching criminals as it emerges 1.1million reports of theft were dropped last year

  • Over one million theft reports were dropped last year with no suspect identified
  • Of 5.4million crime reports last year, 300,000 resulted in a suspect charged  
  • At least 899 Christmas Day burglaries were left unsolved over three years

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Police should focus on catching criminals instead of ‘fobbing off’ victims, a former top watchdog said yesterday.

Forces were failing to prioritise ‘good old-fashioned police work’, Zoe Billingham warned as it emerged that 1.1million reports of theft were dropped last year without a suspect being identified.

Home Office data reveals that the number of suspects charged has fallen to just 5.4 per cent – down from more than 15 per cent only seven years ago.

Zoe Billingham (pictured) served for 12 years until 2021 as Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary. She claimed that forces were failing to prioritise 'good old-fashioned police work'

Zoe Billingham (pictured) served for 12 years until 2021 as Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary. She claimed that forces were failing to prioritise ‘good old-fashioned police work’

Ms Billingham, who served for 12 years until 2021 as Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, said: ‘It is dismal isn’t it? It really is.

‘What I saw about five years ago was forces introducing so-called crime management units, or ‘crime resolution desks’, which were basically call handling centres where instead of getting a visit from a police officer if you had been the victim of a burglary you were asked if you had any CCTV, and if there were any witnesses.

‘And if not they just close that crime down. And that’s not good enough, it just feels like you are being fobbed off.’

Ms Billingham told BBC Radio Four’s Today show: ‘The police are under pressure, there’s no doubt about it. But they are not doing some of the basic things that the public would expect.’

The National Police Chiefs’ Council agreed for the first time in October to send an officer to every burgled home, regardless of location or what had been stolen.

Ms Billingham, who chairs the Police Remuneration Review Body, said officers had to work harder to solve crimes and educate victims about prevention.

‘When we are burgled it is a violation of our own space; it is a terrible crime to be a victim of,’ she said. ‘You have then got a one in four chance of being burgled again, and police know that.’

Analysis of Home Office figures by the Labour Party showed that 1,145,254 cases of theft, including burglary, were dropped last year for lack of a suspect.

Freedom of information data also revealed that at least 899 Christmas Day burglaries have gone unsolved over the past three years. In the past three Decembers there were 65,542 burglaries, more than 54,000 of them closed with no suspects.

Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: ‘To see so many burglaries going unsolved, especially during the festive period, is a damning indictment of this Government’s record on crime.’

Of 5.4million total crime reports last year, just 300,000 investigations resulted in a suspect being charged and brought before the criminal justice system – a success rate of just 5.4 per cent. In 2015, this figure stood at 587,000.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the statistics were ‘disgraceful’ and vowed to put 13,000 extra neighbourhood officers on the streets should the Labour Party win power.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We continue to support the police, including through record investment and the recruitment of 20,000 additional officers by March 2023.’

Source: Daily Mail UK

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