UK

Burglaries rise while criminal charges fall

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Media captionColin Bennett: "They took my late wife's wedding ring"

Burglary reports in England and Wales rose by 6% in three years while the number of criminal charges faced by offenders dropped by 33%, figures show.

There were 308,873 reports in 2014, with 33,354 leading to a charge or summons for offenders, figures obtained from 29 of 44 police forces show.

The reports rose to 325,901 in 2017, but the number of charges dropped to 22,378 - from 10.8% of cases to 6.9%.

The government said police resources were a priority.

The Freedom of Information request by the Victoria Derbyshire programme asked every police force in England and Wales how many crime reports had been recorded for burglary between 2014 and 2017.

It also asked how many of those had resulted in a charge or a summons for an alleged perpetrator.

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The worst performers - Merseyside and Bedfordshire - had a rate of just 3.39% and 3.67% respectively.

Merseyside Police said in March it launched a major operation to tackle burglary, reinforcing it as a main priority - and says it has had considerable success. Bedfordshire did not reply to a request for comment.

Victim's story

Colin Bennett was burgled by two men at his home in Streetly in the West Midlands last year.

When one man went into the kitchen after saying he was checking if there was any sand in the water, another man went upstairs.

"He took the money that was in there and my late wife's wedding rings," Mr Bennett says.

"The intentions were that and the engagement ring would go to my two granddaughters.

"It made me feel very, very bitter."

West Midlands Police said they put out an appeal in Mr Bennett's case, but neither his belongings nor the perpetrators were ever found.

According to the Ministry of Justice figures, convictions over that period have also fallen.

Between 2010 and 2017 there has been a 20% drop in real terms in police funding in England and Wales, which has led to 20,000 fewer officers.

West Midlands Police only achieved 5.8% of cases resulting in a charge.

Its Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, said the force had lost 2,000 officers, and expected budgets to fall further.

"I think the government need to look at that and say just what are their priorities," he said. "Are their priorities keeping people safe? That's where they've got to provide the funding."

Nick Hurd, minister for the police and fire service said: "The government recognises the impact crime can have on its victims and wants offenders charged and brought to justice in the courts.

"The Home Secretary has already indicated that police resources will be a priority for the Home Office at the next spending review."

Watch the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel in the UK.

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