Dozens of suspected criminals on the run

PUBLISHED: 12:30 21 June 2016

Archant

More than 30 suspected Weston criminals are on the run after skipping bail on charges including assault, stalking and theft.

A Freedom of Information request submitted to Avon and Somerset Constabulary by the Mercury has lifted the lid on dozens of arrest warrants stretching back to 2012, with 31 suspects based in Weston who have missed court appearances or been targeted by police.

A leading victim charity said people would have ‘considerable anger’ that suspected criminals were missing, and may be discouraged from reporting incidents.

Of the 31 people currently wanted by police, 20 have been sought since 2015 or earlier, while one Weston resident, wanted for a criminal damage charge, has avoided arrest since October 2012.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary said it paid priority to ‘more serious offenders’, although those on the run include people suspected of causing actual bodily harm and harassment.

A spokesman for Victim Support told the Mercury: “Outstanding arrest warrants can cause considerable anger, frustration and concern for victims.

“Knowing someone has been convicted and has disappeared before sentencing may cause a person to feel like justice has not been achieved, which could discourage them from reporting incidents in the future.

“People can visit our website at www.victimsupport.org.uk or call Victim Support Avon and Somerset on 0300 303 1972.”

Avon and Somerset Constabulary said it would continue to attempt arrests on suspects with warrants ‘when the opportunity arises’.

A spokesman told the Mercury: “Following reorganisation of the way we work about 18 months ago, the focus has been on protecting the vulnerable and arresting more serious and prolific offenders and since the new system was introduced more than 1,000 people have been arrested as part of various operations.

“The number of fail to attend warrants is the total outstanding and goes back to 2012.

“They will remain on PNC (the police national computer) and are regularly reviewed and arrest attempts will be made when the opportunity arises.

“Some failures to arrest may be a result of people moving from the area or the minor nature of the offence – priority will always be paid to the more serious offenders.”

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