Theft ‘decriminalised’ in two-thirds of neighbourhoods, Telegraph investigation finds

Theft ‘decriminalised’ in two-thirds of neighbourhoods, Telegraph investigation finds

“This data demonstrates how the focus in policing has shifted away from core crime outcomes in recent years. Very many people are not receiving any response at all when they are reporting theft,” Mr Muir said.

“This reflects the reductions in resources over the last decade, as well as a more complex crime mix, but now police numbers have returned to their 2010 level it is reasonable to expect more in terms of resolution rates.”

Nationally, the proportion of thefts resulting in a suspect being charged have plummeted in the past six years. They are down from 6.6 per cent to 2.2 per cent for theft of a vehicle since 2017. And they have fallen from 1.8 per cent to 0.9 per cent – or one in 100 – for theft from a vehicle.

Bike theft charging rates have nearly halved from 2.5 per cent to 1.4 per cent, or one in 70 being solved. Charging rates for personal theft have more than halved from 1.7 per cent in 2017 to 0.8 per cent, or one in 125 crimes.

Harvey Redgrave, a former Number 10 adviser and chief executive of crime consultancy Crest Advisory, said: “These shocking figures indicate a police service that is failing to do the basics and will put further strain on its already damaged relationship with the public.

‘Urgent need for a national plan’

“The current situation is intolerable for communities already suffering in a cost of living crisis. We are at a point where many will start to wonder if calling the police is worth the effort and criminals will be left emboldened. There’s an urgent need for Government to set out a national plan for reversing the collapse in charge rates.”

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In the worst area for vehicle crime covering theft of and from vehicles, Upper Edmonton East and Meridian Water in Enfield, all 580 cases were unsolved in three years.

Purfleet, South Stifford and Lakeside in Thurrock had the highest number of vehicle crime cases in the country over the three years with 943, of which 43 were solved. Hans Town in Kensington saw just one of its 730 closed cases solved.

For bike theft, Trumpington in Cambridge had none of its 305 crimes solved. Just down the road, central and west Cambridge had the highest number of thefts at 1,110, of which 27 were solved.

The two worst areas for personal thefts were in the south London borough of Lambeth: Brixton North, which had all its 293 cases unsolved in three years, and Clapham North, with 233 unsolved. Across the entirety of Soho, fewer than 100 of the 15,263 personal thefts were solved (a clearance rate of 0.5 per cent).

‘Shocking figures highlight reality’

Diana Fawcett, chief executive of Victim Support, said: “These shocking figures highlight the unfortunate reality facing many victims of theft –– that far too many go unsolved. These are crimes that can have a devastating impact on individuals, communities and neighbourhoods.”

“However, time and time again victims are left feeling that they have not been taken seriously, and the statistics back this up. This must change, and the police and Government must pull out the stops to tackle and solve these crimes.”

Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said police did take the offences seriously, and where there was not enough evidence to prosecute, forces prioritised targeting prolific offenders, organised crime gangs and preventative measures.

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“I understand the disappointment felt by victims who do not get a quality service by the police or the outcomes they would want through the criminal justice system,” she said. “We know there is much more that needs to be done, and police and prosecutors are doing their part, working together to make sure we improve the experience of those affected by these devastating crimes.”

  • June 25, 2023