No suspect could be found in a quarter of all crimes reported in Northamptonshire during 2016, an investigation by the Chronicle & Echo has found.
An analysis of all 81,926 offences reported to Northamptonshire Police between January and November last year has revealed one in four (26 per cent) investigations ended up with “no suspect” being identified.
Of those figures, more than one-in-five (22.6 per cent) were burglaries and just over 20 per cent were classe as car crimes.
August revealed a spike in burglaries – and as a result – a spike in the number of crimes where no offender was found.
Just over half of all crimes recorded in August, not classed as anti-social behaviour incidents, did not see a culprit identified.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire Stephen Mold said more needed to be done to tackle burglars. He said: “We have 2,000 very talented people looking after 723,000 people, (in Northamptonshire) by its very definition we are going to have some crimes we cannot devote as much resource to as we would like.”
But he added that, with dwindling resources, the force has to prioritise certain offences.
“If you were an officer and you had to choose between going to a rape, or a case of child sexual abuse, or a shed burglary, where would you go?” he said.
But he admitted there was a great deal of work to do to bring the unsolved crime figures down.
He said: “I agree in many ways we do need to do a better job.”
The figures show sexual and violent crimes make up less than 10 per cent of the offences where no suspect could be found.
However, Mr Mold said that burglary will form an important part of his Police and Crime plan for 2017/18 set to be revealed at County Hall today.
He said among the 2,000 people consulted in drawing up the plan, several cited burglary as a real worry.
Plans to put 30 more officers on the beat in the county will go some way to bringing that figure down, Mr Mold believes.
He also wants to reduce the amount of time officers spend on back-office functions and recording crimes, as well as increase crime prevention advice.
However he said burglaries were inherently difficult to solve. A burglar may only end up being charged with “handling stolen goods” as, without witnesses, it is hard to place suspects at the scene.
Aside from burglary a crime map produced for the month of August highlighted another major issue in the east of Northampton, with 62 violent or sexual crimes committed in a three-mile radius that month alone.
Several people the Chron spoke to about a spree of stabbings in the area last week felt the unlit areas and dark underpasses contributed to such offences.
Mr Mold said: “There is a lot of work we are doing now to make sure crime is designed out. The harsh reality is we cannot just knock down the existing buildings over the next few years.”
At County Hall today (Thursday) Mr Mold will call for the policing council tax precept to be raised by two per cent to increase the force’s spending power. The increase would come into effect from April.