How low-level crimes in the UK are going unpunished

The scandal of the UK’s low-level crimes: How offences like blackmail, arson, attempted burglary and pickpocketing are going unpunished, new data suggests

  • There is a drop in overall reported crimes leading to charges across the board 
  •  It comes as faith in police officers plummets amid high profile misconduct cases

Low-level crimes like blackmail, pickpocketing and even arson are going unpunished by overworked police who are intent on tackling more serious crime, new data suggests.

An analysis conducted by The Times found the amount of reported crimes resulting in charges had plummeted in recent years.

The Home Office data revealed in the three months to September last year, one force – Hampshire Police – recorded 751 bicycle thefts. Not a single charge was laid in the same period.

Elsewhere, Thames Valley had 340 reported blackmail cases in the same time frame. Again, nobody was charged.

Dr Rick Muir, director of the Police Foundation think tank, said: ‘Police have shifted to focus on more complex, higher harm offences. 

Even more telling is the drop in overall reported crimes leading to charges across the board

‘It is much harder and much more complicated to investigate a rape than a burglary; or a domestic abuse offence over a car theft. 

‘Inevitably, as you shift towards higher harm or more complex offences, the less harmful but more straightforward crimes get less attention.’ 

Similarly, 931 non-life threatening arson reports were made in Gwent and 66 attempted burglaries reported in Warwickshire. No charges were laid relating to the allegations in either district, the publication reported.

In Hampshire, 288 people told police they’d been pickpocketed. There were no corresponding charges. 

Even more telling is the drop in overall reported crimes leading to charges across the board. 

Back in 2015, up to 25 per cent of reports, including of verbal harassment and threats, resulted in charges. That number has now dropped to three per cent.

This data comes at a time when faith in police and the judicial system is already at a low.

Over the course of the past year, high profile allegations of rape, misconduct and murder within the force have impacted the public perception.

Last year, the Commons home affairs committee said ‘public perception remains complaints against police are unlikely to succeed and would only result in minimal sanctions’.

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