How odd! Police not taking even-handed approach to burglary inquiries


Attempted break-ins at odd-numbered houses were not fully investigated by one police force as part of an experiment to look at ways of saving money.

Leicestershire Police said the three-month pilot was launched earlier this year to see whether only responding to half of attempted burglaries had any impact on victim satisfaction rates.

For the purposes of the pilot, attempted burglaries at even-numbered houses would be fully investigated with forensic teams sent and fingerprints taken but this would not happen if the victim lived in an odd-numbered house.

The force added that if the victim was deemed vulnerable or the suspected burglary was part of a series of crimes, the property would be visited by officers regardless of house number.

Leicestershire Police said the pilot saw police officers attending all scenes of attempted burglary, but only sending forensic teams to half of all potential crime scenes had "no noticeable impact on victim satisfaction".

Jo Ashworth, director of forensic sciences, at the East Midlands special operations unit, said: "The pilot was developed to look at what value forensic teams bring to the detection of attempt burglaries. At a time when we are operating within reduced budgets, it is even more critical that we make the absolute best use of our crime scene investigators' time."

Leicestershire's deputy chief constable Roger Bannister said: "The public would expect us to make the very best possible use of our time and limited resources to have the biggest impact on public safety and the prevention and detection of crime.

"This pilot suggests that we may need to reconsider how best to deploy crime scene investigators, especially if we are currently sending them automatically to scenes where, despite their professionalism and expertise, there is no evidence for them to retrieve."

Sir Clive Loader, Leicestershire's police and crime commissioner, said he did not know about the scheme and would have advised against it taking place.

He added: "I appreciate that technically this is operational policing territory, carried out by an East Midlands collaborative unit, I believe that I should have been informed, principally because it was taking place in Leicestershire.

"Had I been consulted I would have advised against it, particularly in light of the controls chosen which, to me at least, are unlikely to inspire much public confidence."