Rural residents suffer as police struggle to crack country cases
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