Thurrock public meeting and the tough facts about burglary
We held a lively and constructive public meeting in Thurrock in the early evening of November 22, 2013, with a nearly full house of over forty people raising their issues and concerns directly with the local policing team and Community Safety Partnership, and receiving detailed and informative answers.
As Police and Crime Commissioner, I am committed to helping to ensure that local people can engage directly with all those who have a role in keeping communities safe. Almost everyone attending the meeting asked a question or raised a specific issue, and was able to speak directly with Thurrock District Commander Chief Inspector Ben Hodder, Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Hooper, Chief Superintendent Sean O’Callaghan, road traffic specialist Sgt Simon Willsher, Thurrock Chief Executive Graham Farrant and Lucy Magill representing the Community Safety Partnership.
We must continue to build and grow strong links between local people, our police and our community safety teams. I am committed to continuing to hold public meetings in all parts of Essex.
There has been some follow up press coverage asking whether burglary is now “unsolvable” in Thurrock. Some of the figures quoted have combined figures for the two main crime categories: Dwelling Burglary – which is the burglary of a person’s home; and Other Burglary – which includes burglaries of sheds, garages, outbuildings on a farm and of commercial premises.
The latest figures for these two crime types are as follows.
In Thurrock, between April and October 2013, there were 428 burglaries or attempted burglaries of homes recorded, compared with 462 such crimes during the same period in 2012: a reduction of 7.4 per cent, or 34 fewer crimes. The proportion of these crimes which have been solved has increased from 7.14 per cent in 2012 to 17.52 per cent in 2013. This is a really encouraging rise.
In Thurrock, between April and October 2013, there were 398 burglaries or attempted burglaries of sheds, outbuildings and commercial properties, compared with 385 such crimes during the same period in 2012: an increase of 3.4 per cent, or 13 more crimes. The proportion of these crimes which have been solved has remained consistently and disappointingly low, with 4.16 per cent of these “other” burglaries being solved in 2012, and 4.02 per cent being solved between April and October 2013.
Countywide, the figures are as follows.
Across Essex, between April and October 2013, there were 4,091 burglaries or attempted burglaries of homes which is a reduction of 2.5 per cent or 107 offences compared with the figure of 4,198 in 2012. The proportion of these crimes which have been solved has increased from 12.48 per cent in 2012 to 20.88 per cent in 2013.
Across Essex, between April and October 2012, there were 3,616 burglaries or attempted burglaries of sheds, outbuildings and commercial properties, compared with 3,719 such crimes during the same period in 2012: a reduction of 2.8 per cent or 103 fewer crimes. The proportion of these crimes which have been solved has decreased by one percentage point, from 7.56 per cent in 2012 to 6.53 per cent in 2013.
Burglary is a highly distressing crime that can have a lasting impact on victims. In response to the high number of burglaries in our county, Essex Police has launched Operation Insight which uses techniques of predictive policing, increased patrolling around crime “hot spots”, and engaging local communities actively in the fight against this type of crime.
I am broadly reassured that crime is recorded accurately and ethically in Essex. This matters because detectives use the data to identify and analyse the behaviour of the burglars operating in our county. That data informs the intelligent deployment of police resources to fight crime, so it must be as accurate as possible. I have written about why it is absolutely imperative for all police forces to record crime accurately and ethically here:
So, is burglary an “unsolvable” crime? My answer is that burglary is a challenging crime to solve – both in Essex and across the country – but by providing police with accurate information and intelligence, and through the use of innovative police techniques in operations such as Insight, we can catch burglars and bring them to justice. I say well done to the Thurrock policing team both for reducing burglaries in Thurrock for April-October this year (compared with last) and also for solving a significantly higher number of them, though it would be good to see this number rising even further.
I will not however fall into the trap of setting specific numerical targets for the Chief Constable. The Parliamentary Select Committee has performed an important task in starting the debate about the perverse consequences of target cultures.
I will continue to scrutinise all crime patterns in Essex with Chief Constable Kavanagh on a regular basis. I am confident that he will continue to make operationally sound decisions around how he uses his policing resources. I will also ensure his officers work with our partners in community safety to tackle criminality across Essex, as they certainly do in Thurrock.
And if you have information about a burglar, report it confidentially to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.