Low-level crime ‘isn’t being dealt with well by police’, Victims’ Commissioner says

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Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales (PA)
Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales (PA)

Day-to-day crime such as phone or bicycle thefts are not “being dealt with well by police”, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales has warned.

Dame Vera Baird QC told the Independent that the public is worried about the police’s response to common offences.

“It is confidence-sapping to find that low-level, day-to-day stuff we are used to hearing about isn’t being dealt with well by the police,” she said.

“People think ‘goodness me, if they can’t get this right what are they doing about really serious stuff?’”

Dame Vera said this could lead to victims losing out on justice or losing faith in the criminal justice system.

“Police investigations appear to be increasingly a postcode lottery,” the former police and crime commissioner added.

“I’m worried about the consistency and performance across a whole range of offences.

Official figures show that only 4 per cent of theft offences and 6 per cent of robberies currently result in a prosecution in England and Wales.

Nearly a quarter of all thefts and domestic burglaries are concentrated in just 5 per cent of local areas, with London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands seeing the highest figures, the Independent reports.

One example is watch robberies in the capital.

Knifepoint watch robberies by moped gangs in the capital soared by 60 per cent between April and June, the Metropolitan Police said.

The terrifying robberies have mainly been in affluent West London - with 108 watches stolen across the streets of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham.

Meanwhile nationally, overall prosecution rates have fallen to a record low of 5.6 per cent while at the same time, recorded offences by police have reached an all-time high.

On top of that, barristers have caused backlogs in criminal courts as they strike for a fifth week.

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) action is part of a dispute over conditions and Government-set fees for legal aid advocacy work.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said that recorded burglary had halved in a decade due to prevention work.

A spokesperson said “We recognise that 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.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said the government is investing a record £46m into victim support funding over the next three years.