Call to axe police’s council tax funding if force stops burglary investigations

Cllr David Shopland proposed the motion.

Cllr David Shopland proposed the motion. - Credit: Archant

North Somerset will become a ‘thieves paradise’ if police no longer investigate reports of home burglaries.

That is the view of councillor David Shopland who called on councillors to consider withdrawing the precept through council tax bills to support the police.

His motion was rejected but councillors agreed to set up a meeting with the force area’s Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens in September to air their concerns.

Figures from The Office of National Statistics revealed 8,009 burglaries were reported to the Constabulary in the year ending March 2018, while 3,240 non-residential burglaries occurred.

Cllr Shopland said: “The police were created to ensure people would be safe in their homes and on the streets.

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“Burglaries have increased in North Somerset and the region will become a thieves paradise if the police are not going to investigate such happenings.

“This frightening scenario makes me wonder what the future holds, we need to be protected.”

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Ms Mountstevens will be invited to a private meeting with members of the community and corporate organisation policy and scrutiny panel to discuss concerns in September.

The issue comes after it was revealed the number of police officers working for Avon and Somerset Constabulary has dropped in the past year.

In March, there was the equivalent of 2,597 full-time officers in Avon and Somerset, a drop of 70 officers compared to 12 months ago. Less time is also being spent on frontline policing – 2,319 officers were available for frontline duties in March this year, down 130 from 2017.

Cllr Mark Canniford supported Cllr Shopland’s motion.

He said: “I do not blame the police but I see these issues day by day. Crime is out of control in this area, people do not feel safe when they go on holiday and this is a real problem.

“The police do not have control of this situation and we need it sorted.”

A spokesman for the Constabulary said the force ‘endeavours to investigate all crimes reported’ but ‘all calls are prioritised and based on threat, harm and risk’.

Ms Mountstevens said: “Burglary is extremely disruptive and upsetting for the victim and will not be tolerated in North Somerset or the wider communities.

“There are many reasons why some burglaries are not always solved including the nature of the crime itself, or a lack of investigative opportunity with no evidence, witnesses or further lines of enquiry.

“If you have been a victim of burglary in Avon and Somerset I do not want you to be deterred in reporting this crime in the future.

“It’s vital the police have this information to aid with future investigations and to ensure policing is resourced appropriately in the areas that matter most to you.

“Working together, with the police, probation, prisons, drug services and the criminal justice system, we are committed to bringing burglars to justice.

“It’s important for everyone to feel safe in their homes and there is a lot of good advice on the police website about how to take precautions to keep your property secure.”

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