Sending police to all burglaries cuts break-ins by half, forces find

Sending police officers to all burglaries cuts the number of offences by half, forces find as ministers are urged to make it national policy

  • Police in Northants, Bedfordshire and Greater Manchester employed same tactic
  • Forces sent officers to every burglary to collect evidence and reassure victims
  • All three have reported impact on number of recorded crimes as a direct result
  • Ministers believe results are evidence a national roll-out of strategy is justified 

Police forces across the UK are being urged to send officers to every burglary scene after three forces saw a dramatic drop in the number of burglaries.

Forces in Greater Manchester, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire all publicly pledged to send an officer to every burglary in a bid to tackle the number of unsolved crimes.

As the forces have confirmed the approach has produced a visible impact on the number of break-ins across their counties, ministers believe the results are evidence a national roll-out of the strategy is justified.

A Government source told the Daily Telegraph: ‘This is good policing. The public expect the police to pursue available opportunities to prevent and detect crime.

‘Not only do you get to speak to the victims, which is important from a reassurance point of view, but you can also pick up forensics like fingerprints. Most of these people are repeat offenders.’

Northamptonshire Police’s Operation Crooked aims to make the county a ‘hostile environment’ for burglars and saw the force slash the number of domestic break-ins by 48 per cent, according to the Telegraph.

In two years, the number of burglaries dropped from 5,500 to 2,850.

As part of its operation, Northamptonshire Police also issued named photos and wanted appeals for six of its most prolific burglars.

Ministers are being urged to create a national policing policy that would see officers sent to the scene of every burglary across the UK, as three forces find the method cuts break-ins 

Last month, the force hit headlines when it sent Christmas cards  to known or suspected burglars advising them to have a crime-free Christmas

The Telegraph also reports that Bedfordshire saw its detection rate for burglaries almost treble from 8.2 per cent at its launch to 22.8 per cent last November.

Overall, on average there have been around 34 fewer residential burglaries every month across Bedfordshire in 2021 compared to last year. 

The force also said there were almost 100 fewer burglaries in hotspot areas across Bedfordshire as the clocks went back – a period normally targeted by burglars.

The dramatic drop in the number of break-ins in Bedfordshire coincides with the force doubling its solved rate for burglaries in November compared to the average.

As part of its strategy, the force wrote to almost 40,000 households in areas identified as having higher rates of burglary.

These letters contained crime prevention advice to coincide with the clocks going back, which can historically see a rise in burglary offences as the nights get darker earlier.

Figures show there were 93 fewer residential burglaries in these areas throughout October and November last year compared to the same two months in 2020, according to Bedfordshire Police.

As part of Operation Crooked, Northamptonshire Police force sent Christmas cards (pictured) to known burglars in the area to warn them to have a ‘crime-free Christmas’ last month

Under the banner of Operation Maze, the force has committed to sending a forensic officer to the scene of every burglary and to treat any burglary in a frequently-targeted area as a priority, as well as those with vulnerable victims or the prospect of witnesses.  

Detective Superintendent William Hodgkinson said in a statement: ‘We are determined to tackle burglary from every angle.

‘We are investing in our fantastic Operation Maze burglary squad and want to double the number of detectives working in that unit next year.

‘But we are also being creative in how we get the word out to our communities to make themselves a hostile target for opportunistic thieves.

‘There are some simple steps you can take to keep your home safe. Plus, if you have any information, please report it – all reports go into our intelligence systems, help us build the full picture of burglary across the county and take action.’

The initiative is expected to be rolled out to forces across the country as the tactics used are evidence that it is effective.

Priti Patel said the approaches used by Northamptonshire Police and Bedfordshire Police contributed to an overall drop of 30 per cent in the number of burglary offences recorded

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, told the Telegraph: ‘It is thanks to forces such as Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire who are focusing on getting back to the basics of policing that we will continue to cut neighbourhood crime like burglary, which has dropped by more than 30 per cent in the last two years.’ 

Greater Manchester Police said the approach would be introduced in the force after the publication of the Government’s Beating Crime Plan last summer.

Launching what they called Operation Castle, the force said in a statement at the time: ‘GMP has volunteered to work with the government to evaluate the benefits of sending a police officer to every domestic burglary across Greater Manchester.

Greater Manchester Police reinforced the operation in October – again ahead of the clocks going back – and said they would continue to send an officer to every domestic burglary.

Superintendent Dave Pester, GMP’s force tactical lead for Operation Castle said: ‘Burglary is one of the most intrusive forms of crime a person can experience – whether it’s your home, your school, or the business you’ve created.

‘This is why Operation Castle has been developed and I’d like to reinforce our commitment to deploying a police officer to every burglary – whether that is residential or elsewhere in the community.

Greater Manchester Police launched Operation Castle last year as part of the Government’s Beating Crime Plan to reduce neighbourhood crime. Pictured: Greater Manchester Police HQ

‘This new renewed commitment for GMP means that we will actively be targeting burglary offenders, arresting them and bringing them to justice because we know the misery they can cause to our communities.

‘For every burglary reported to ourselves, we are prepared to take robust action to fight this high impact crime and every report will be investigated – utilising a full range of assets from across the force including from our forensic teams to identify offenders where possible and delivering support crime prevention advice as well as victim support.’

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