Police chiefs across England and Wales have committed forces to attending all home burglaries in a new set of standards they hope will result in more of the crimes being solved and more offenders prosecuted.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said chief constables will work to ensure the approach is implemented “as soon as practically possible”.
While some forces already have a policy in place to go to all home burglaries, others attend only where victims are vulnerable or elderly, or there are evidential lines of inquiry to be followed up.
Today police chiefs have announced a commitment that all home burglaries in England and Wales will be attended by the police.
— National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) (@PoliceChiefs) October 5, 2022
The national decision follows an announcement last week by the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, that officers would go to every reported burglary in London, because the crime was “too serious an intrusion” for police not to attend.
NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said more burglaries should be solved if officers visit the scene.
The proportion of crimes in England and Wales that end with a charge or court summons has fallen since 2015, reaching 5.6% in the year to March 2022, down from 7.1% the previous year.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael warned that the move may be a box-ticking exercise without proper funding from the Government.
“It is devastating for victims that the overwhelming majority of burglaries go unsolved,” he said.
“While this is a positive step, without proper resources from the Government this pledge risks being nothing more than a box-ticking exercise.”
The NPCC said an evidence review from the College of Policing, which is responsible for setting the standards for policing, had shown how swift attendance of officers at scenes of crime can increase victim satisfaction and aid investigations, as well as helping with the prevention of future crimes in the area.
Public opinion and His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services’ (HMICFRS) report on acquisitive crime were also taken into account before the decision was reached, the NPCC added.
In a tweet announcing the measure, the NPCC said it wanted to give people “peace of mind”.
The organisation said forces will prioritise attendance where people’s homes have been burgled, rather than outbuildings and garden sheds.
Mr Hewitt said: “The number of burglaries is at an all-time low – down 51% over the past decade due to increased investment by police and partners in preventing them happening in the first place.
“Wherever you live in England and Wales you can be confident the police will attend if you experience the invasion of a home burglary. This should see more burglaries solved and more offenders prosecuted.”
The NPCC said Home Secretary Suella Braverman had been informed of the new standards on September 30.
College of Policing chief Andy Marsh said suffering a burglary can “steal a person’s sense of security from the place where they should feel safest”.
He added: “Officers across the country want to be locking up criminals and keeping communities safe. Our standards will help bring consistency to the police’s response, enable them to get the basics right and deliver what the public expect.”
Ms Braverman said “getting back to common sense policing will increase the public’s confidence in their local force” and send a clear message to criminals “that this is a high-risk crime which they won’t be getting away with”.
She said: “We must not get complacent about this kind of crime and sadly there is a perception that the police have been, despite burglary rates being lower than they were five years ago.
“I wholeheartedly welcome the commitment from the National Police Chiefs’ Council to attend all home burglaries. They have my support as we move forward.”
Last week, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it is unacceptable that the proportion of reported burglaries attended by an officer from the force has fallen to 50%.
“We’re never going to turn up to every single crime, and the public understand that, but something as severe as burglary needs a proper policing response. It’s too serious an intrusion not to have somebody turn up,” he said.