EXCLUSIVE: Police now close up to half of theft cases within 48 hours without a suspect


Police close as many as half of theft cases within 48 hours of a victim reporting the crime after claiming they could not identify the suspect, figures obtained by The Telegraph show.

numbers obtained through Freedom of information requestsThey show that police investigations into thefts of people, bicycles and cars have become shorter – by a third on average – in the past five years at the same time that suspect charging rates have halved.

The data also reveals that as many as a third of burglaries are closed within two days without a suspect being identified amid fears of police checking the crimes.

It comes after Home Secretary Soella Braverman told police forces not to treat theft as “frivolous” anymore, but rather as “frivolous”. All crimes must be investigated where is there “reasonable lines of inquiry”.

HMG’s Chief Inspector of Police for 12 years to 2021, Zoe Bellingham, said she confirmed the inspectorate’s concerns that forces were “running” crimes such as robbery rather than solving them, partly due to a lack of detectives.

She said: “One of the concerns I had when I was in Her Majesty’s Inspectorate was that the police force had set up crime-solving or crime-management offices, which are a mechanism for quickly closing down crimes when there are no lines of investigation.”

“I was concerned about the scrutiny by the command of the forces, and whether there was subtle, if not overt, pressure on officers to close their offices rather than investigate them.

She added: “It has been going on since the times of austerity when the powers were under pressure. It came to a head with a national crisis in detective recruitment. One in five detective offices was empty at the time.

“There was all kinds of pressure on the forces to take a shortcut effectively, and not always investigate as their policies require. This was an issue that the Inspectorate had flagged at the time, and it has come to the fore now.”

Last month, Chief Inspector of Police Andy Cook said he was “disappointed” to find that forces were closing cases with “the investigation completed – no suspect identified” as there were still lines of inquiry.

The data, a sample of 18 forces, shows that up to 60 per cent of theft cases closed because “no suspect was identified” were closed within 48 hours.

The average time before closing an investigation without identifying a suspect in personal theft decreased from 26 days in 2017 to 19 days in 2021. For Cleveland police, the force that conducts the shortest investigations, the average time before closing a case. It was 1.7 days.

As for bicycle thefts, it decreased from an average of 18 days to 13 days before investigations were closed without identifying the suspect. For Cambridge, the police who conducted the shortest investigations, it was on average just one day.

Low shipping totals

For a vehicle theft, the time before a case is closed without the suspect being identified has decreased on average from 34 days to 23 days in the past five years. The fastest closing times were in Nottinghamshire, in two days.

For a carjacking, the average length of time before an investigation was closed without the suspect being identified fell from 17.6 days in 2017 to 12.2 days in 2021. The fastest was Cambridgeshire where it fell to just one day on average.

For burglary, the average length of time before closing was 27.6 days, down from 30.2 days in 2017, with the shortest average time in Nottinghamshire.

Meanwhile, the proportion of burglaries leading to a charge decreased from 6.3 percent in 2016 to 4.5 percent in 2021, bicycle theft from 2.8 percent to 1.4 percent, and theft from a vehicle from 2 percent to one. percent and vehicle theft from 8.7 percent to three percent.

All 43 police forces in England and Wales have pledged to investigate all offenses for which there is “reasonable evidence”, which follows a commitment last year to send an officer to every home burglary.

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