Burglaries involving unlocked doors and windows should not be investigated
It was recently revealed that around 20 per cent of burglaries in England and Wales from April 2005 to March 2015 involved access through unlocked doors and open windows. In response, one senior police officer suggested that forces should not help victims that had not secured their property correctly.
Assistant Chief Constable Phil Kay, of Leicestershire Police, even compared victims of “preventable” break-ins to NHS patients who have been told they cannot be operated on because their body mass is too high.
“If the health service are making decisions on whether someone has helped contribute to prevent something or not, should the police?” said Kay. “It is right that we try and stop it but it is right that people take responsibility. If they knew we were not investigating it, they may take notice.
“I would far rather my officers were spending their time preventing crime, protecting the public and focusing on other stuff than things that are preventable.”
Backlash to comments
Andrew Bridgen, the Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, responded angrily to the comments made by Kay, saying: “I would like to hope that the forces are putting this out there as a way of reminding the public of the importance of not leaving doors or windows open.
“But it is their job to detect and investigate such crimes, not to penalise law-abiding citizens who may have made a mistake.”
Leicester Police issued a statement confirming they will “continue to prioritise the investigation of all reports of domestic burglaries received from members of the public in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland” and said there were “no plans to change this”.
Lord Willy Bach, Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, also added: “I want to make the position crystal clear. As long as I am Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland every burglary will of course continue to be investigated, as it always has been.
“Of course crime prevention is critical. It seems to me that this is what Phil Kay was getting at. Everybody has a responsibility to be vigilant.”
A closer look at the crime survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics revealed that around 15 per cent of burglaries occurred because doors were not locked. A further seven per cent of incidents involved a window that was open or could be pushed open.
Perhaps the naivety of certain homeowners and households can be attributed to the fact that the number of domestic burglaries in England and Wales went down by 11 per cent for the year ending March 2016. However, this still means there are 29 burglaries per 1,000 properties.
But while several police forces won’t take much notice to Kay’s comments, most investigations into house and other building burglaries are unsuccessful in Innovate Security’s home county of Essex. From 1st January 2013 to 31st July 2016, less than 10 per cent of burglaries were solved by Essex Police in all three districts – 6.4 per cent in Braintree, 8.1 per cent in Colchester, and 9.9 per cent in Tendring.