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Echo investigation: Almost 80 per cent of county's crime unsolved
ALMOST 80 per cent of crime in Dorset is unsolved and there are fears this could rise due to cuts in police numbers.
Information obtained by the Echo shows 78 per cent of crimes reported to Dorset Police last year were ‘undetected’, meaning no one was charged or prosecuted.
Last year 3,527 of 9,137 violent crimes and 155 of 603 sexual offences were solved.
Police also detected 272 of 1,899 dwelling burglaries and 240 of 4,336 of vehicle crimes, a rate of just 5.5 per cent.
Chairman of Dorset Police Federation Clive Chamberlain warned that this could fall due to the recent cuts to the service.
Mr Chamberlain voiced his fears on the day the Home Secretary faced calls to resign as she was told she had lost the trust of the police.
Theresa May was heckled and booed as she told officers that they should stop pretending the police were being picked on.
Several officers called for her to resign, while others shouted that she was corrupt, after she told rank-and-file officers they should see through changes to their pay and conditions for the good of the country.
The comments came after Mrs May spent almost two hours listening to officers’ concerns and answering questions at the annual Police Federation conference in Bournemouth.
Mr Chamberlain said: “When we talk about cuts we’re looking at 108 fewer officers than last year and 176 fewer police staff and that is going to make a difference, because the only thing you get for less is less.
“We’ve always said that crime levels will rise but actually the figure that does get forgotten is how successful we are in catching people and detecting crime.
“With fewer officers and staff we are almost being set up to fail.
“It’s really quite worrying because if we’re not solving crimes then offenders are free to commit further crimes.
“This is something that people should be really concerned about, it’s a really worrying trend and I believe that it will only get worse.”
He added: “Peoples’ confidence in the police will be shaken if offenders are not caught – they have the right for their crimes to be investigated and these figures will knock public trust.
“Our first job is to prevent crime and our next duty is to detect crime, so if detection is going down then that’s worrying regardless of if crime levels are going up or down.
“I’m very sad to see this happening because it’s easy to talk in terms of statistics but behind the numbers are people who have had their lives ruined by a crime as victims.
“Having someone in your house or damaging your possessions can affect the victim for a long time and frightens them. At the end of the day it’s the victims who lose out.”
The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, also shows the rate of undetected crime has gone up slightly since 2010.
In 2011 there were a total of 45,148 recorded crimes, 9,753 of which led to a charge, summons, caution, formal warning, youth reprimand or the offence being taken into consideration.
The rate in Dorset is also higher than the national average of undetected crime, which is 75 per cent.
Detective Chief Superintendent Colin Stanger, head of crime and criminal justice command, said: “The Force has made significant changes to the way it investigates crime throughout the county in the past year to improve the service it gives to victims of crime.
“Whilst the Force had a detection rate of 22 per cent last year overall, the benefits of the changes made are now being realised, with significant increases in the last five months of the number of crimes detected – a trend which continues through to this year’s performance with a three per cent increase, and is now near to the national average.”
He also said that the overall level of crime was down in Dorset for the 14th consecutive year and that a number of low-level crimes were dealt with out of the courts and not included in the detection rate figures.
He added: “The force continues to improve the service it provides to victims of crime, and does not see that future budget cuts will result in less crimes detected.”
'Police never came back to us'
Lauren Terry and Adam Foster, of Chapelhay Street, Weymouth, said they never heard back from the police after the family’s Skoda car was written-off in a spate of car vandalism in March.
Mother-of-two Lauren said: “The police never got back in touch about it.
“I just think considering quite a few cars were damaged that night more could have been done.
“It’s annoying that we haven’t heard anything else about it, it just seems to have been dropped.
“Someone’s done this and they’ve got away with it, it makes me so angry to think about it.
“Why should they get away with it – they’re still out there.
“You just think: why haven’t they been reprimanded – it’s unacceptable. It would have been nice to have been kept updated, even if they called just to say that they hadn’t caught anyone.”
She added: “I think the cuts are definitely going to make this worse, they’re not going to be able to do anything about it.
“If they cut back they won’t have officers out on the streets and the rate will go up.”