Revealed: The police forces sending officers to one in four burglaries

·3-min read
Home burglary - BengtHultqvist/iStockphoto
Home burglary - BengtHultqvist/iStockphoto

Police forces are sending officers to as few as one in four burglaries despite government calls to visit every one.

Constabularies that have pledged to send police to the scene of every break-in have cut burglaries by up to half and seen detection rates treble.

However, data obtained by The Telegraph under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws show that two forces, Avon & Somerset and Northumbria last year visited just 25 per cent and 35 per cent of homes respectively.

This contrasted with South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, where the forces sent officers to more than 90 per cent of houses hit by burglaries.

South Yorkshire Police, where 96 per cent of burgled houses were visited last year, was led by Chief Constable Stephen Watson until he took over Greater Manchester Police (GMP) last year, where he immediately instituted a policy, Operation Castle, for officers to attend all burglaries.

As a result, the force was chosen by the Government to evaluate the impact on burglaries.

Overall, arrests have already increased by 61 per cent and the number of crimes solved are up by 21 per cent.

When he arrived at GMP, Mr Watson said: “Shoplifting, petrol station forecourt, drive-offs, vehicle crime and, to a lesser but still fairly pronounced extent, even things as serious as burglary were just not being investigated. Those days are over. We do not make so-called screening decisions at all.

“My approach is we record crime accurately, we pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry, and if that leads us to make an arrest, that’s what we should be doing.”

Ministers have urged all forces to adopt the policy by ministers and Andy Cooke, the chief inspector of constabulary, who said that visiting every burglary as swiftly as possible could preserve and elicit forensic evidence to identify thieves and their links to other crimes.

Northamptonshire Police, which pledged to visit every burglary victim and set up two teams that sit within CID to achieve that, drastically cut domestic break-ins across the county by 48 per cent since April 2019. FOI data show that officers attended 78 per cent of burgled homes last year.

Detective Superintendent Emma James said: “We launched Operation Crooked to have dedicated teams tackling the issue, not only putting the offenders behind bars, but also working on crime prevention measures in hotspots to try to deter burglars and prevent crimes before they take place.”

Bedfordshire Police, which made a similar pledge, said that its detection rate nearly trebled from 8.2 per cent at its launch to 22.8 per cent last November – a peak month for burglaries, as thieves exploit the clocks going back and nights closing in earlier.

Only nine of the 43 police forces contacted in England and Wales provided data on burglary visits, with two-thirds of the forces saying they did not have the data available, meaning they are not openly tracking the information.

Officers from Northumbria Police visited just 1486 of 4214 houses burgled in 2021, or 35 per cent, while Avon & Somerset Police attended 867 out of 3466, 25 per cent.

In England and Wales, the proportion of burglaries resulting in a charge fell from one in 15, 6.3 per cent, in 2016 to one in 25, 4.5 per cent, last year.

Chief Inspector Karen Corrigan, Avon & Somerset Police’s lead for burglary, said that the force took burglary reports “extremely seriously” and made “every effort to attend dwelling burglaries which happen at the main property” and prioritised immediate attendance to break-ins in progress.

The force also had a dedicated team, Operation Remedy, trained to investigate links between burglaries to prevent further break-ins and disrupt offenders. The number of domestic burglaries had fallen from 6,100 in 2017 to 3,466 last year.

Deputy Chief Constable Alex Franklin-Smith, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for burglary, said: “We recognise how invasive and traumatic it is to have your home invaded. We will always prioritise attending home burglaries and providing support to those victims who may be particularly vulnerable, such as the isolated elderly.”