Burnham MP shocked at police detection rates

This is The West Country: Burnham MP shocked at police detection rates Burnham MP shocked at police detection rates

FIGURES obtained by the Weekly News have revealed 73% of crimes committed over the last two years in Sedgemoor remain unsolved.

The figures, from a Freedom of Information Act request, show 578 crimes were reported between January 2012 and January 2014, including arson, robbery, thefts from homes and businesses, assault and rape. Of those, 412 are unsolved.

The number is broadly in line with the national detection rate, according to Home Office figures.

But Burnham MP Tessa Munt told the Weekly News: “These figures are shocking and I’m particularly concerned about the seven unsolved rape cases.

“I would want to know where these crimes occurred, urban or rural, and the circumstances.

“But crime is crime and these figures certainly raise questions.

“What resources do the police currently have available to them in light of cuts? There were cuts to the PCSO budget and I’d be interested to see these figures alongside that.

“Is there a resource shortage and if so what do the police need to raise the rate of cases which can be solved?

“If they don’t need anything and they’re doing all they can then some of these cases may never be solved.”

Ch Insp Paul Mogg, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: “We try to ensure victims receive the best possible service and investigation we can provide.

“We look at each crime on a case by case basis and allocate resources and time accordingly, taking into consideration the nature of the crime and the information available to us.

“We never close cases.

“Although we may have exhausted the conventional checks such as house-to-house; checking CCTV; and appealing for witnesses, we will also re-visit if new information comes in.

“A detailed or complex enquiry such as an arson, robbery or rape for example, can take much longer to complete and would therefore appear as undetected for a period of time.”

The 412 unsolved crimes include seven cases of rape out of 13 reported over the past two years in Sedgemoor.

Rowan Miller, director of Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS), which includes the Sedgemoor area, said: “People have this concern there are strangers waiting to pounce in dark alleys, but that is really rare.

“The majority of rapes are carried out by someone the survivor knows, not strangers. Around 85% of people do not report a rape to the police and 40% never tell anyone – 13 rapes over two years is the tip of the iceberg.”

Other reported crimes in Sedgemoor in the past two years include: 23 cases of arson (19 unsolved, or 83%); seven robberies (three unsolved, 43%); 72 home burglaries (59 unsolved, 83%); 265 thefts from businesses (233 unsolved, 88%); eight assaults with injury (three unsolved, 38%) and 190 minor assaults (88 unsolved, 49%).

Police data also revealed that almost two-thirds of crimes in nearby North Somerset are unsolved, including incidents of rape, arson and burglary – 10,439 crimes committed there in 2012, with 6,686 unsolved.

Data on the Home Office website says the overall detection rate nationally for 2012/3 was 28.9%.

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