According to the findings, police close investigations without identifying a suspect in three-quarters of reported vehicle thefts, four in five residential burglaries and almost half of shoplifting cases – meaning hundreds of thousands of culprits are getting away entirely with committing often-serious offences.
As Yorkshire MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the Commons Home Affairs committee, correctly points out, “failing to identify suspects gives criminals a green light to reoffend”. Not only that, but victims who have had their possessions taken and their properties broken into, are left feeling unsafe in their own homes in the knowledge that the person or persons who has targeted them is still at large.
Police forces are undoubtedly under great pressure with resourcing, following cuts in the numbers of officers and PCSOs, as well as rising serious and violent crime and the emergence of vast types of new online offences.
Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council has admitted increased demand and fewer officer numbers have led to forces prioritising cases which they consider to have a realistic prospect of prosecution.
That this acknowledgement is borne of an honest assessment of policing resources will be little comfort to victims of unresolved crimes, who are being left without closure.