Special report: Northamptonshire force's major new focus on burglary sees house raids plummet
The launch of a dedicated new burglary taskforce in Northamptonshire has seen house raids plummet in the space of two months.
With knife crime reaching ‘epidemic’ levels and the number of violent assaults on a dramatic rise nationally – the county force has focussed its resources towards public protection in recent years.
But the net effect has been that burglars, during that time, have been largely getting away with it.
The latest crime figures from February show that out of 547 burglaries committed – only eight ended in court proceedings. The vast majority of incidents saw the investigation closed with no-one caught.
In recent weeks though the force – now under Chief inspector Nick Adderley – has talked of a cultural shift geared towards protecting our homes.
Since establishing a dedicated nine-member team of officers tasked with reducing the number of house burglaries and snaring repeat offenders residential raids have ‘plummeted’ from about 130 a week to 46.
One of the men in charge of it, Detective Inspector Wayne Preece, says the burglary team is at the forefront of a priority shift for the county force, prompted by feedback from the public.
“The main reason for that is the huge impact burglary can have on the victims with people entering the home, looking at their personal property and stealing that personal property,” he said. “Some victims never recover from this.”
Over the past two months almost every victim of burglary in the county has received a visit from a police officer.
Previously, DI Preece said, victims of a raid would be unlikely to be seen by police if they told the 999 call handler they had tidied up after the burglars.
Now, even if the evidence has been disturbed an officer will attend and any forensic submissions will be fast-tracked through the lab.
Burglary crackdown is ‘why many became a police officer’
Police officers and members of the public are ‘buying in’ to the county force’s fresh focus on tackling burglaries.
That is according to the man in charge of the new burglary team, which last week issued a 10 most wanted list of repeat offenders it is hoping to track down.
DCI Andy Rogers says the shift in scant police force funds towards protecting the home has been largely welcomed.
“Our officers are really buying into it,” he said. “It’s why many people wanted to be an officer in the first place.”
The team works by meeting each morning and reviewing the outstanding burglaries in the county.
It then directs extra constables, PCSOs and specials to areas that have been hit to help prevent repeat raids.
As around a quarter of all burglaries are caused through ‘insecurities’ – effectively unlocked doors or windows - residents in the area are made aware there has been an incident nearby.
The team is also focussing heavily on putting away repeat offenders.
“We are targeting the people creating the most harm,” DCI Rogers said. “One person can create a lot of carnage.”
Among the success stories from the new approach is a family from Kingsthorpe who had all their stolen electronics returned within days of a raid.
Business developer Laura Baker, 34, had put her three children Louis, Maisy and Eloise to bed on March 16, just hours before prolific burglars Keiron Long and Wayne Brown broke in.
The men stole the family car as well as three iPads filled with games and photographs.
But, remarkably, five days later the items were returned because Long and Brown were on the burglary team’s watchlist.
“It’s almost unheard of to hear that people have had items returned,” said Laura. “I have no doubt this burglary team have created an environment to follow up on leads and catch people. From our point of view, we are grateful this is up and running.”
Laura said nine-year-old Louis struggled to sleep following the raid. But the fact Long and Brown are now in jail has had a profound effect.
“I can say to my son ‘these men have gone, you are safe again’,” she said