Cash-strapped cops' burglary woes revealed as just three of 113 burglaries in central Weston-super-Mare are fully resolved
PUBLISHED: 09:00 11 January 2017 | UPDATED: 09:46 11 January 2017
Avon and Somerset Constabulary admits it 'needs to improve' after it emerged less than three per cent of burglaries in central Weston have been fully resolved in the past year.
A Mercury freedom of information request to the constabulary has revealed that the 12 months preceding November 2016 saw 422 burglaries in Weston, of which only 57 have been resolved.
But in the Weston central beat area the picture is more grim, with just three of the 113 burglaries successfully investigated, meaning many victims suffer this ‘extremely disruptive and upsetting’ crime without justice.
The figures come as the force endures an array of morale-crushing Government cash cuts which have taken tens of millions of pounds away from the constabulary since 2010.
Avon and Somerset’s force lead for burglary admits police must improve how burglary is tackled. Detective Superintendent Carolyn Belafonte said: “We need to improve the way we deal with burglary investigations – there are no two ways about it.”
She continued: “But, it is important to state that we’ve already taking real and positive action to make these improvements.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens believes the force is doing its best with reduced resources, but added she wants ‘fairer’ police funding to help Avon and Somerset plug a £14million annual shortfall.
She said: “To date we have made over £60million savings since 2010 and despite a reduction in officer numbers, I know the constabulary continues to make best use of its resources.
“There’s no doubt we are facing a huge challenge in the area and I continue to lobby central Government for fairer funding for the communities of Avon and Somerset.
“It is an ongoing challenge to maintain visibility of policing in neighbourhoods where the pressure to respond to the demands of complex and emerging crimes are increasing.
“However, providing there is no further reduction in Government funding, I remain committed to protecting frontline policing posts to ensure our communities are safe and feel safe.”
Ms Mountstevens says the £14million could pay for 350 police officers, PCSOs and staff.
She added: “Burglary is extremely disruptive and upsetting for the victim and will not be tolerated in Weston, or the wider communities of Avon and Somerset.
“There are many reasons why some burglaries are not fully resolved including the nature of the crime itself, or a lack of investigative opportunity with no evidence, witnesses or further lines of enquiry.
“Working together, with the police, probation, prisons, drug services and the criminal justice system, we are committed to bringing burglars to justice.”
Ms Belafonte said the force is changing the way it tackles burglaries including making visits to known offenders to ensure ‘they know they’re on our radar’.
She added: “These changes will cover all aspects of burglary investigations from patrols, investigations, follow-ups and crime prevention.
“We know approximately 90 per cent of crimes involving burglary in the force area are carried out by ten per cent of our known offenders.”