Police chiefs across the country have for the first time vowed to ensure officers “attend all home burglaries”.
Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said the commitment is aimed at building public confidence in the police.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Mr Hewitt said: “Some police chiefs have struggled to achieve attendance at all burglaries with limited resources and balancing an increase in complex and highly harmful crimes. But burglary is invasive and can be deeply traumatic.
“We want to give people the peace of mind of knowing if you experience that invasion, the police will come, find all possible evidence and make every effort to catch those responsible.
“That’s a critical part of the contract between the police and public.”
His comments come as the Mail reports an average of 774 burglaries go unsolved each day, while recent Home Office data showed just 6.6% of robbery offences and 4.2% of thefts in England and Wales resulted in a charge in the year to December 2021.
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.
Mr Hewitt said the NPCC is also asking for the Home Secretary’s aid to help police chiefs focus more resources on solving crime.
Just 5.6% of offences in England and Wales in 2021/22 – about one in 18 – resulted in a charge and/or summons, down from 7.1%, or one in 14, in 2020/21, according to Home Office figures published in July.
“A National Audit Office report in 2018 showed that 64% of emergency calls to the police were not about crime,” Mr Hewitt said.
“Some are entirely legitimate police activity, but a substantial proportion see police stepping in to health and social work because of an absence of other services.
“We’re asking government to seriously take on the vast widening of the policing mission. We want to focus more on solving crime. The public want the same. And so do politicians.”
Mr Hewitt is also calling for a review of crime recording processes, with the current system too often taking officers away from neighbourhood policing and contributing to “misleading” statistics.
“Right now, for crime recording purposes, a burglary of someone’s family home is treated the same as the loss of a spade from a shed. There must be a better way,” he said.
Finally, Mr Hewitt said police and Government need to work together to agree a consistent standard of core police services, “with evidence and public priorities at the heart of our decision-making”.