Burglary figures are ‘misleading’ says crime commissioner

Library image.
Library image.

Figures suggesting that Bedfordshire Police barely catch 1 in 4 burglars (26 per cent) are misleading, the county’s crime commissioner Olly Martins has said.

“There is, in fact, a small number of offenders who commit most burglaries, and they are usually very well known to the police and the rest of the criminal justice system,” he said.

“This means that the challenge for the force is not catching burglars but matching them to all the offences they have committed. In other words, for it to be true that Bedfordshire Police only catches 26 per cent of burglars it would have to be the case that each burglary was committed by a different individual offender.”

The commissioner added: “Despite the resource challenges it faces Bedfordshire still manages to be the 11th most effective force in terms of detections. This is a considerable achievement and something which I feel should be applauded – but even one burglary is one too many for the victim, and I believe that the early introduction of compulsory GPS tagging for prolific burglars can help to reduce these callous and often devastating offences.”

He has previously called for GPS tagging of offenders to be extended from a voluntary to a compulsory basis, and is eagerly awaiting the national roll-out of GPS tagging by the Ministry of Justice – something he hopes will occur in the near future.

He went on to point out that the Integrated Offender Management (IOM) programme, which has proven its effectiveness in Bedfordshire, works to break the cycle of repeat offending by tackling underlying issues that drive criminal behaviour.

The programme targets serial criminals who would otherwise be caught in a revolving door of offending followed by prison, over and over again. Offenders must admit all their previous crimes and demonstrate a genuine desire to stop offending to be placed on the programme and if they commit a crime while on the programme - or fail to complete it - they will be sent back to court and sentenced for all the crimes they have confessed to.

In many cases they agree to wear a ‘tag’.

He continued: “This is not a soft option but an effective programme that brings together statutory agencies from the criminal justice system and others, including the police, probation and local councils supported by the courts, to prevent known repeat offenders from committing more crime. At the end of the day, we all want to see

fewer victims.”

The scheme currently works with the 250 most persistent and prolific acquisitive offenders in the county, providing individually tailored measures designed to take them from frequent offending to a life free of crime.

“Because of their often chaotic lives, it is rarely a smooth rehabilitative journey, but the programme has reduced the harm these offenders cause and is starting to achieve notable successes,” the commissioner said.

>To read our previous report on burglary figures click here