‘Shocking’ Data Shows UK Police Closed Unsolved Theft Cases in 84% of Neighborhoods Over Three Years
04:58 GMT 08.08.2022 (Updated: 15:20 GMT 28.05.2023)
Earlier this summer, data showed the proportion of recorded burglary offences in the UK where charges had been brought had plummeted from 16 percent in 2015 to nine percent in 2021, with the then-Policing minister Kit Malthouse urging forces to be more active both in preventing and solving cases.
UK police have closed theft cases
in more than eight out of 10 neighbourhoods in England and Wales over the past three years without a single suspect identified or charged, reported The Daily Telegraph.
In nearly 21,000 neighborhoods that suffered at least one burglary over the period, none of the crimes had been solved in 84 percent of them, an investigation by the daily newspaper shows.
In 20 neighborhoods with an average of more than 1,500 residents which had registered more than 100 thefts between June 2019 and May 2022, not a single one had been solved, the report stated.
The investigation revealed that the proportion of burglary cases not solved in England and Wales was 41 percent in urban areas, 61 percent in rural areas and 46 percent overall.
All 274 of the thefts recorded in one neighborhood in central Watford, Hertfordshire, over the same three-year period had in effect similarly been closed and shelved with no suspect identified. Thieves had targeted a local church where wallets had been stolen from offices, and a shower-head and air fresheners had been swiped, but none of these crimes had been solved.
“The police said ‘We’re really sorry and we’ll try to find them, but we don’t have CCTV’. You don’t expect people to steal from a church. Everyone works really hard for their stuff and it’s disgusting that people would thieve,” Jordan Guthrie, manager of Wellspring Church, was cited as saying.
Similarly, large numbers of unsolved cases were discovered in neighborhoods in Brixton North (189), London Bridge and Bermondsey West (163), Borough and Southwark (159), Bedwell in Hertfordshire (139) and central Colchester (138).
A broader analysis of districts with 7,000 to 10,000 residents showed a persistently deplorable rate of case-solving by the police in 69.2 percent of the areas.
Despite the Metropolitan Police being placed in special measures in July for “systemic” problems such as failure to investigate crime properly, the analysis pointed to London as having eight of the 10 worst crime-solving districts, including King’s Cross and Pentonville, Elephant and Castle and Islington East.
Weighing in on the disgraceful data, Dame Vera Baird, the Victims’ Commissioner, was cited as saying:
“Theft should be the bread and butter of neighborhood policing… Faced with such low rates of suspects being identified, punished or charged, many victims will wonder whether theft has effectively been decriminalised and feel like victims are increasingly being left to fend for themselves while thieves offend with impunity.”
According to Sir Mike Penning, former policing minister, police officers are not particularly zealous in investigating cases because the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has failed to take theft seriously.
“Police know the CPS are not interested and even if they get them into court, they just get a slap on the wrist. We need to prioritise crimes against the person, prioritise the victim and establish a pathway. At the same time, when you get them in court, the punishment has to match the crime.”
Earlier this summer, UK Home Office data had shown that police failed to solve
more than a million burglaries over a span of six years, with the proportion of offences that resulted in a charge plummeting 40 percent. With rural areas appearing to show the worst rate of solved thefts, a lack of forensic evidence in these cases, such as DNA and fingerprints, or CCTV footage, was blamed. Furthermore, many experts attributed the policing crisis to budget cuts dating back a decade when 20,000 officers in England and Wales had been culled.