Leicester

Leicestershire police 'ignore' attempted burglaries at odd-numbered houses

Doors Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The force said police officers still attended all burglaries, no matter what the house number

Attempted break-ins at odd-numbered houses were not fully investigated by one police force as part of an experiment to save money.

Leicestershire Police said the pilot scheme had had no adverse effect on public satisfaction or crime rates.

Results of the three-month trial are being evaluated and could see it rolled out throughout the East Midlands.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Clive Loader said he was unaware of the idea but would have advised against it.

Due to cuts in central government funding, the force has cut £33.9m - about 17% of the entire budget - over the four years to March this year, but is expecting more savings to be needed.

The pilot was prompted by analysis by East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), which covers Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, which found of 1,172 attempted burglaries scenes, few were found to contain any forensic evidence, and only 33 suspects were identified.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police said 1,172 incidents investigated had led to only 33 suspects being identified

Jo Ashworth, director of forensic sciences with the unit, said: "The pilot was developed to look at what value forensic teams bring to the detection of attempt burglaries.

"At a time when we are operating within reduced budgets, it is even more critical that we make the absolute best use of our crime scene investigators' time."

Leicestershire's Deputy Chief Constable Roger Bannister said they were examining many ways to deliver more cost effective policing.

He said: "This pilot suggests that we may need to reconsider how best to deploy crime scene investigators, especially if we are currently sending them automatically to scenes where, despite their professionalism and expertise, there is no evidence for them to retrieve."

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Image caption Residents said they were worried it would mean a two tier police service criminals would exploit

The force also said forensic teams were still sent to all attempted burglaries involving vulnerable people or those thought to be linked to other incidents.

But Sir Clive Loader said he was not aware of the trial and "should have been informed" before it was put in place.

"Had I been consulted, I would have advised against it, particularly in light of the controls chosen which, to me at least, are unlikely to inspire much public confidence.

"It introduces to the public eye - okay only for three months - a sort of serendipity about whether they get a proper service."

'Ridiculous and haphazard'

Eric Tindall of Melton Mowbray Neighbourhood Watch said: "If you live on one side of the street you're going to get the 100% support and services from our police force, and on the other side you're going to get what's left over.

"It does announce to the criminal element, that they can go down one side of the street not being so cautious as to what they get up to, but on the other side they are going to be more cautious."

Olwen Edwards, from Victim Support in Leicestershire, said: "All victims of crime deserve their cases to be robustly investigated.

"This may not always involve collecting forensic evidence, but where this doesn't happen, the police should explain the reasons why."

Leicester South MP Jonathan Ashworth called the scheme "ridiculous and haphazard" and said he would be writing to the home secretary and chief constable.

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