Ru­ral res­i­dents suf­fer as po­lice strug­gle to crack coun­try cases

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Pa­trick Scott Martin Evans

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PO­LICE are los­ing the fight against vi­o­lence, bur­glary and anti-so­cial be­hav­iour in Bri­tain’s ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

Far from the large conur­ba­tions and ur­ban ar­eas, it is the res­i­dents of the shires that of­ten get the worst ser­vice from the UK’s strug­gling forces.

A break­down of crime and jus­tice out­comes in lo­cal dis­tricts, ob­tained un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act, dis­closes that the place with the poor­est record for catch­ing bur­glars in the coun­try last year was the Cotswold District Coun­cil re­gion of Glouces­ter­shire.

Last year there were 293 res­i­den­tial bur­glar­ies re­ported in the area – which in­cludes the towns of Cirences­ter, Bour­ton-on-the-Wa­ter and Chip­ping Cam­p­den – but a sus­pect was iden­ti­fied in just 10 of those cases, rep­re­sent­ing a suc­cess rate of just 3.5 per cent.

The next-worst area for bur­glary was Bar­net in north London, with just over 5 per cent of cases solved, fol­lowed by Sandwell in the West Mid­lands with a clear-up rate of just over 6 per cent.

But the largely ru­ral ar­eas of East Lind­sey District Coun­cil in Lin­colnshire and Ut­tles­ford in Es­sex – which in­cludes the town of Saf­fron Walden – were also among the top 10 worst-per­form­ing ar­eas, with clear-up rates well be­low 10 per cent in 2017.

Ar­eas such as North Ty­ne­side saw sus­pects iden­ti­fied in al­most 40 per cent of bur­glar­ies. Bar­row-in-Fur­ness in Cum­bria had a suc­cess rate of 35 per cent while Gateshead’s was 31 per cent.

Last year The Tele­graph re­vealed an up­mar­ket cor­ner of Surrey had the high­est bur­glary rate per head of pop­u­la­tion. The GU3 post­code, which in­cludes parts of west Guildford as well as the mil­i­tary town of Pir­bright and vil­lages like Fair­lands, over­took Red­bridge in East London.

The Glouces­ter­shire force’s bud­get has been cut by around £30mil­lion since 2010 and it has lost al­most 250 of­fi­cers. It has also been asked to find £6mil­lion sav­ings in the next three years.

When in­trud­ers stole £100,000 of jew­ellery from the Church­down home of 96-year-old Molly Luke, it was left up to her niece to turn de­tec­tive. The par­tially blind and deaf pen­sioner con­fronted the in­truder, who fled.

Mrs Luke’s niece, Kelly Den­hamReid, said: “The thing that re­ally ir­ri­tated me was that there was vir­tu­ally no feed­back from the po­lice. I had to chase them up to find out what was hap­pen­ing.

“In the end I started to make my own in­quiries be­cause I did not feel enough was be­ing done. I went to the lo­cal pawn­bro­kers and spoke to the neigh­bours to see if they had CCTV. These are all things the po­lice should have been do­ing, but the at­ti­tude was ‘we won’t catch them’.”

The Cotswold District Coun­cil re­gion also has the worst fig­ures in the coun­try for catch­ing car thieves. Of the 55 thefts re­ported across the area last year, not a sin­gle per­son was charged.

The ar­eas of East Hamp­shire, the Vale of White Horse in Ox­ford­shire and Waver­ley in Surrey also per­formed badly.

Re­mote and ru­ral ar­eas also of­ten fared worse than ur­ban coun­ter­parts in other cat­e­gories. Rib­ble Val­ley in Lan­cashire recorded 46 re­ports of crim­i­nal dam­age in 2017 but no one was charged.

In the Ep­som and Ewell area of Surrey there were 123 such of­fences with just one charge, while in Mid Sus­sex 170 in­ci­dents led to only two charges.

Rochford in Es­sex was the district with worst clear-up fig­ures for as­sault in Eng­land and Wales, with charges brought in three out of 374 cases.

Buck­ing­hamshire and Ox­ford­shire were na­tional black spots for shoplift­ing.

Chip­ping Cam­p­den was among the Cotswold towns to suf­fer from a low clear-up rate for bur­glar­ies

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