Express & Star

Only one in 10 burglaries solved by West Midlands Police

Only one in 10 burglaries in the West Midlands were solved by police over the last five years.

There has been a spate of burglaries and car break-ins over recent weeks in Wheaton Aston

New figures showed burglars got away with it in 88 per cent of cases. Across the West Midlands and Staffordshire, more than 90,000 break-ins have gone unsolved since 2016.

West Midlands Police closed 78,377 burglary cases without identifying a suspect, while 11,954 were unsuccessful in Staffordshire - which was 73 per cent of all break-ins in the county.

The West Midlands force is the worst in the country for burglary success rates, the Home Office figures showed. The 88.7 per cent of cases which went unsolved between September 2016 and September 2020 was higher than any other force in the country, including the Metropolitan Police.

The number of unsolved cases in the West Midlands rose to 19,000 in 2018, dropping slightly to 18,200 the following year. There were 13,875 cases last year, with the lower figure likely to be due to the pandemic.

In Staffordshire, there were 2,931 unsolved burglaries in 2018 and 2,508 in 2019. Last year, the figure fell to 1,790 during Covid.

A police appeal was launched this week following a terrifying break-in in Stourbridge where crooks, including one wearing a monkey mask, sawed through a gate and kicked in a door.

West Midlands Police are trying to trace these people in connection with the burglary in Stourbridge. Photo: West Midlands Police

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "Our officers are committed to following the trail of evidence in all the cases they examine − but if an investigation finds no witnesses, CCTV or forensic evidence then the chances of identifying offenders is vastly reduced.

"We fully understand how being a victim of burglary can be very distressing. Even if nothing is stolen, the thought of a stranger being in your home can feel like a violation of your privacy and security.

“Many burglaries are committed by offenders with a drug addiction trying to pay for their habit. We’ve recognised that and in recent years launched an innovative offender rehabilitation scheme in which some of the region’s most prolific burglars are given the chance to break the cycle of drugs, crime and prison. If they fail, they go back to jail.

“It’s been hugely successful. One burglar with more than 60 convictions to his name has recently come off the programme after four years. He’s been crime and drug-free during that time, is now holding down a full-time job, is planning to get married and has his own home.

“Since the programme was launched in 2017, burglary rates have fallen across the West Midlands by around 30 per cent.”

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, said: “For anyone who is burgled the distress and anxiety caused is immense.

“That is why, in my manifesto, I specifically called for a robust police response by West Midlands Police, so more is done to tackle the problem.

“Over the last decade the force lost more than 2,200 police officers, following ill-advised government cuts, which made preventing and tackling burglary all the more difficult.

“Now though I have promised to boost the number of officers working in communities across the West Midlands by 450. I hope this will go some way to keeping people and their homes safe from burglars.

“I am also tackling the underlying causes of burglary, by investing in drug treatment programmes as we know more than half of all crimes like burglary and robbery are committed by people who commit these crimes in order to fund their addiction to substances like heroin and crack cocaine.”

Alec Sandiford, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for North Staffordshire added: "Everyone should be able to feel safe in their own homes, and know that if someone does break in they will be caught and punished. But with the vast majority of burglaries going unsolved, that’s simply not the case for far too many people in Staffordshire.

“Staffordshire Police need the officers, resources and time to focus on preventing and solving crimes. A return to proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and known personally to local people, would go a long way.”