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The suburb that has effectively been ‘decriminalised’: Residents living in worst neighbourhood for unsolved burglaries reveal they ‘never see’ bobbies – amid fury at police failure to tackle burglaries across the country


Residents in England’s worst neighbourhood for unsolved burglaries say the area has effectively been ‘decriminalised’ as they revealed they ‘never see’ a police officer.

All 165 burglaries reported in Outer Rothwell in West Yorkshire in the past three years remain unsolved, shocking figures show.

It is the highest rate in England and Wales, where police have failed to solve a single burglary in nearly half of all neighbourhoods in the past three years.

Locals in the ex pit town, which is situated just south east of Leeds and where the average house price is around £239,435, pointed to a lack of police presence meaning ‘they think they can get away with it’.

The analysis comes despite police pledging to attend the scene of every domestic break-in to boost detection rates.

Grandmother-of-four said she never sees police officers in Rothwell

Grandmother-of-four said she never sees police officers in Rothwell

All 165 burglaries reported in Outer Rothwell in West Yorkshire in the past three years remain unsolved, shocking figures show

All 165 burglaries reported in Outer Rothwell in West Yorkshire in the past three years remain unsolved, shocking figures show

An aerial view of outer Rothwell which has been plighted with unsolved burglaries

An aerial view of outer Rothwell which has been plighted with unsolved burglaries 

Rothwell in West Yorkshire is a small town outside Leeds that has a population of 20,000

Rothwell in West Yorkshire is a small town outside Leeds that has a population of 20,000

Retired nurse Elaine Paul, 70, blamed the lack of police presence for the figures.

The grandmother-of-four said: ‘There’s a lot of anti-social behaviour that goes on, particularly in the precinct and the shopping centre.

‘I’ve spoken to people who’ve experienced it personally, there’s youths that have been abusive, throwing things, but there’s no police presence.

‘The youths that commit this anti-social behaviour, they see there’s no police presence, they see no deterrent and they think they can get away with it.

‘The local councillors just don’t intervene, they don’t seem to put any pressure on. It comes from the top down, look at the cuts the government have made to policing.

‘They say they’re recruiting more, but they’ve not even replaced the ones they’ve cut. There used to be a police station that was manned in the town, but that’s shut down now.

‘You never see a police officer, so it’s no surprise they think they can do what they want.’

‘There’s just no police presence at all. Ever. There’s no deterrent for them, they know nothing is going to happen.’

One burglary victim in Rothwell said officers attended the house after the break-in, in which he had around £6,000 worth of goods stolen from his garage.

But he said despite crime scene investigators combing the building for clues and neighbours capturing the suspected thieves on CCTV, they were never caught.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the man told how a gang of youths broke into his garage and made off with £3,000 worth of fishing gear and a £2,500 bike.

He’s since had CCTV installed on his semi-detached house and increased security measures on his gate.

The retired nurse said there is a lot of anti-social behaviour in Rothwell town centre

The retired nurse said there is a lot of anti-social behaviour in Rothwell town centre

One burglary victim in Rothwell said he had £6,000 of goods stolen from his garage

One burglary victim in Rothwell said he had £6,000 of goods stolen from his garage

Ex-victims' commissioner Dame Vera Baird claims that crooks currently have a 'free hit' when burgling somebody's home

Ex-victims’ commissioner Dame Vera Baird claims that crooks currently have a ‘free hit’ when burgling somebody’s home

He said: ‘They forced my garage doors open, they stole my bikes, stole my fishing gear.

‘A neighbour had ring doorbell footage and another neighbour had CCTV, they looked like they knew where they were going.

‘Has it affected us long-term? Yes, I would say it has. I used to go out fishing quite a lot, but I probably went three times last year after the break-in.

‘I’ve not replaced any of it, a) because it’s a lot of money and b) because I don’t want it to happen again.

‘The police did send somebody round to speak to me and the crime scene guy came to take finger prints, but he couldn’t get anything.

‘I got a phone call to say they think it’s a guy who had been released from prison, but I heard nothing since then.

‘They were nice enough, but it doesn’t get me my stuff back. I think there’s a lack of funds for them and the police officers they do have are too busy doing paperwork.’

Analysis by the Telegraph shows the proportion of neighbourhoods where no burglaries were solved has risen from 46 per cent in the three years to 2021 to 48 per cent in 2021-23.

And Home Office figures reveal that the proportion of burglaries resulting in a charge fell to 3.9 per cent last year compared with 4.6 per cent in 2022.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Since 2010 our communities are safer, with neighbourhood crimes including burglary, robbery and theft down 48 per cent and violent crime down 51 per cent and with more police officers in England and Wales than ever before.’

But in Rothwell’s main street, which houses a shopping precinct blighted by anti-social behaviour, locals were unconvinced.

Superintendent Jim Troisi of West Yorkshire Police said: ‘We recognise the huge impact that being burgled can have on people, whether that is in their homes or their workplace.

‘We have made significant investment in projects to reduce burglary in West Yorkshire and these efforts have resulted in a 35.9 per cent reduction in residential burglaries and a 21.7 per cent reduction in business and community burglaries when compared to 2019.

‘We are also committed to attending all home burglaries in line with recently published national guidance.

‘Some burglaries are finalised as unsolved because of a lack of evidence or because a suspect cannot be identified.

‘Our detection rates are relatively in line with other police forces in England and Wales, but we continually work to improve the quality of burglary investigations by listening to feedback from victims, looking at new and improved ways of working and training, and upskilling our officers and staff.’

The data includes the time since England and Wales's 43 chief constables pledged in October 2022 that their officers would visit the scene of every burglary

The data includes the time since England and Wales’s 43 chief constables pledged in October 2022 that their officers would visit the scene of every burglary

The analysis of police data from 30,100 neighbourhoods found that in 48.2 per cent, no break-ins had been solved in the past three years.

The analysis of police data from 30,100 neighbourhoods found that in 48.2 per cent, no break-ins had been solved in the past three years.

The data has sparked fury across the country, leading ex-victims’ commissioner Dame Vera Baird to claim that crooks currently have a ‘free hit’ when burgling somebody’s home. 

She told the Telegraph: ‘What these figures show is that in half of the neighbourhoods, burgling somebody’s home is a free hit. The criminal can walk away with the proceeds and never look back.

‘Burglary can be very very upsetting and traumatising; it can make people afraid to go out in case it happens again and afraid to stay at home for the very same reason. Why are there no arrests, no prosecutions and no deterrence in almost half of all these cases?’

Harvey Redgrave, a former No 10 policy adviser who is chief executive of crime consultancy Crest Advisory, said: ‘It is of real concern that despite the high-profile commitment to attend the scene of every burglary, the police do not appear to be improving the rate at which burglaries are solved and offenders brought to justice.

‘Public confidence in the police will not improve unless victims believe reporting crime will make a difference.

‘These statistics also reinforce the need for a cross-government strategy to deal with the minority of highly prolific offenders who are responsible for a large proportion of burglaries and theft more widely.’

In the worst-performing force, Hertfordshire, just one in 50 (2.2 per cent) burglaries resulted in a charge last year compared with 9.6 per cent in the best, South Wales.

Just under three quarters of police forces saw a fall in their charging rates for burglary in the past year.

That being said, there was a fall in the overall number of break-ins.

West Mercia, Bedfordshire and North Wales registered the biggest rises in rates – with increases of over one percentage point in a year – and were three of the 12 forces to see their numbers rise.

In ‘hot spot’ neighbourhoods, defined as those with at least 10 break-ins unsolved in the past three years, police are failing to solve a single burglary, according to the Home Office data. 



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