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Chief Constable Admits, Surrey Police Has ‘A Lot More To Do’ in Solving Burglaries

Published on: 31 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 31 Jan, 2022

Only 3.5 per cent of burglaries are solved in Surrey

Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Surrey Police has “an awful lot of work to do” in increasing the number of burglary cases that are solved in the county, its chief constable said today.

The force’s Chief Constable Gavin Stephens said that while he was seeing some of the lowest burglary rates in his almost 30 years of service, he knew that communities were not getting “the service they absolutely deserve” with the number of burglaries being solved at around 3.5 per cent.

PCC Lisa Townsend

Speaking at a public meeting with the Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend today (January 31), Chief Constable Stephens said Surrey remained one of the safest counties in England and Wales.

Chief Constable Stephens said: “We’ve got an awful lot of work to do in terms of solving more crime for our communities.

“In the last year, we solved 74 fewer burglary offences than previously. This results in a very low solve rate for Surrey of about 3.5 per cent, which of course is nowhere near what we would want to do for our communities.”

A public performance report produced for the meeting showed Surrey had recorded 22 per cent fewer residential burglaries for the 12 months to December 2021 compared to the 12 months to December 2020.

This was a drop from 3,378 in 2020 to 2,634 in 2021, with Chief Constable Stephens noting that residential burglaries also includes break-ins to sheds and outbuildings.

ONS data shows that up to June 2021, residential burglary dropped 20.8 per cent across England and Wales.

The report showed a 4.9 per cent solve rate in the 12 months to December 2020, and a 1.4 percentage point drop in this number to December 2021.

Chief Constable Gavin Stephens

Chief Constable Stephens said: “We recognise there’s a lot to do. We recognise that it’s not giving our communities the service they absolutely deserve in terms of solving more crime.”

He added that burglary, unlike some other crimes, was almost universally reported to police, but there were several factors impacting on the force’s ability to solve the crimes.

These included changes in collecting digital forensic evidence, such as looking at data from cars stolen as part of a burglary because “burglary offenders are very smart at not leaving a trace behind”.

He also said that because there had been less access to prisons during the pandemic, officers could not get in to do interviews with those who had previously been arrested and put in prison, which could often help with identifying patterns.

He added that since November a prison investigation team was in place to do this, that focus groups had also been run with investigators to find out what the obstacles were to solving crimes, and pointed to nationwide “blockages” in the criminal justice system.

He said: “My colleagues want nothing more to be able to clear up these crimes and keep the community safe.”

Deputy Chief Constable Nev Kemp also spoke at the meeting. He said Surrey Police was one of the leading forces in terms of dealing with domestic abuse instances involving those in or connected to policing.

He recognised a need to get the “internal culture right when it comes to domestic abuse and violence against women in particular”.

In domestic abuse cases where the offender was in policing, whether in Surrey or in a neighbouring force, they would not be investigated by anyone who knew them in real life or even on social media.

He said: “The way that we treat crimes with our own officers and staff is a barometer, I believe, for the way that we deliver our services to the public.

“So it’s absolutely vital to me that we get that right because our officers and staff will look at each other and see how we’re dealing with crimes internally, and I absolutely want us to set the highest standard there.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend added: “How we police our own [officers and staff] is absolutely vital, and it’s such an important part of giving the public confidence, particularly in light of recent reports in the media about some police forces, although thankfully not Surrey.”

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