To great fanfare, the National Police Chief’s Council announced that police in England and Wales had achieved their goal of attending all scenes of domestic burglary. This is both good news and a sign of lowering our expectations.
Over the past three years, police forces have failed to solve a single burglary in nearly half of all wards in England and Wales, while charge rates have plummeted, from nearly 7% in 2016 to just 3.9% in 2022. Criminals now seem to believe they can prey on innocent homes with impunity. It is unfortunate that in some cases they may very well be correct.
It used to be that victims of this most intrusive crime could reasonably believe they would be visited by an officer to investigate and reassure the household of their safety, but in recent years that is far from guaranteed. At times, it seemed like the forces would rather focus their energies on “resolving” rude online behavior.
Returning to treating burglary with the seriousness it deserves is a good first step in restoring public confidence and continuing the fight against crime, but it is only that. What matters to the public is not whether officers show up at a house and check a box indicating their presence at the scene of the crime, but whether the perpetrators are arrested, charged and punished. These results are necessary to neutralize repeat offenders and deter potential imitators.
The intent behind the attendance policy is admirable and the police force is to be commended for the effort it has made to achieve its goal. Now we need to see that intent turned into real crime fighting.
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