WEST Yorkshire Police has responded after an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme revealed that more than 46 per cent of crimes reported to the force in 2017 were dropped with little or no investigation.
Dispatches obtained figures from a Freedom of Information request and reported that West Yorkshire had the highest percentage of dropped cases out of 25 that responded from a total of 43.
Programme makers said that in England and Wales up to a million reported crimes are being dropped with little or no investigation.
The Dispatches ‘Lawless Britain: Where Are The Police’ programme - which was due to be shown on Channel 4 at 8pm tonight (Mon Oct 8), asked police forces about cases which do not qualify for investigation after initial screening.
Dispatches says that many offences are logged and reported but never passed to an officer for investigation and that “nearly a million” crimes are treated this way.
Responses were received from 25 out of 43 forces.
The data from the Metropolitan Police is from 2016 and for 2017 for other forces
Dispatches states that 27.02 per cent of crimes were reported to have been screened out.
Higher figures were found in other forces including 46.53 per cent in West Yorkshire, 39.84 per cent in Greater Manchester Police and 29.48 per cent for the Metropolitan Police.
The show noted there were more than 450,000 vehicle offences in England and Wales last year, including both thefts of cars and items from inside them.
Of the 21 forces who provided comparable data for vehicle offences, 59.51 per cent were being screened out, Dispatches said.
Of the 23 forces who provided comparable data for sex offences, 3.26 per cent were being screened out.
Marian Fitzgerald, visiting professor of criminology, University of Kent, told the programme: “It varies from force to force and some of them seem to be more gung-ho about screening out than others, but typically things like theft, criminal damage, vandalism, thefts from cars, interfering with cars. Those sorts of fairly commonplace offences, those are the ones that seem to be screened out fastest.”
West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Tim Kingsman, said: “West Yorkshire Police treats all reports of crime very seriously.
“Every crime reported is investigated - It must be stressed that all crime gets a primary investigation either by a police officer attending in person, or over the telephone by trained officers or police staff.
“However like every other force we have limited resources, an increasing demand for our services and more complex challenges to deal with. We have to focus our efforts appropriately to ensure we are both effective and efficient.
“We do not have targets but given our limited resources we do prioritise our response and ensure where there are investigative opportunities we pursue them as far as we can.
“Each individual report is assessed using the THRIVE (Threat, Harm, Risk, Investigation opportunities, Vulnerability and Engagement) risk assessment model.
“The Force does not have any targets for screening out crime – each crime is assessed on its individual circumstances so it would be impossible to set targets.
“Our Force Crime Management Unit resources use their training and professional assessment on each and every crime when making decisions to allocate or finalise crimes.”
“Fewer than 20 per cent of contacts with the police relate to crime. Of those, around 47 per cent of crimes, or about eight per cent of all police contacts, are currently assessed after a primary investigation has occurred in West Yorkshire and finalised at this stage.
“Under our demand management review we scrutinised a sample of 4,000 crimes from the initial report, right through until eventual finalisation.
“The number of crimes sampled provided a high confidence level that was statistically viable as a basis for the review.
“From that we identified that we were allocating far too much crime for secondary investigation – with no gain to the victim in most cases and we needed to focus our front line officer time more appropriately.
“The methodology used in the review indicated that our optimum finalisation rate after primary investigation was 56 per cent of total crime, using the THRIVE risk assessment model, proportionality & solvability factors – so for example a crime might be finalised after the initial primary investigation if it was relatively minor and offered no investigative opportunities.
“An example of such a crime that might be finalised could be a shed break-in that happened when the occupants were on holiday.
“The caller therefore may not know when it happened, there may be no witnesses and no forensic opportunities or CCTV available.”