Car Thefts ‘Effectively Decriminalised’ in London as Less Than One Per Cent of Criminals Charged

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Theft from cars have become “effectively decriminalised” in London according to experts after it was revealed that the Metropolitan Police made charges in less than one per cent of vehicle thefts in the capital last year.

Out of the nearly 55,000 thefts from vehicles in London last year, Scotland Yard only solved 271, representing just an 0.5 per cent success rate, according to an analysis of Home Office data conducted by The Telegraph. Due to the scale of the London metropolitan area and its relatively high crime rate, the number of vehicle thefts recorded by police represented nearly one in four of all those recorded in England and Wales.

According to the broadsheet, only two major police forces faired worse than London in successfully charging car thieves, with the West Midlands and Surrey police forces only maintaining a 0.4 per cent charging rate.

Other forces, however, have performed significantly better than the Met, including the Dyfed-Powys Police, which is responsible for the Welsh counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys, having recorded a charge rate of 5.6 per cent, ten times the rate recorded by Scotland Yard.

Commenting on the failures of London to tackle the issue, the head of the Police Foundation think tank Rick Muir said that the British capital has seen the “effective decriminalisation” of car thefts and that policing failures are incentivising more thieves to commit the crime as they do no worry about actually being apprehended.

“Victims of these kinds of these crimes would not expect to get the same level of priority as more serious offences,” Muir said. “But, at the same time, there are certain things the public expect of police, one of which is that they will at least investigate these bread and butter crimes.

“Policing is going to have to look at these levels and decide if it has got it right. Where the charge rates are at that level, there is no deterrence to commit these kinds of offences and it might encourage people to commit them in future.”

The report comes just days after Sir Mark Rowley was named as the new commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, replacing the controversial Dame Cressida Dick as the most senior police officer in the country.

Sir Mark, who previously served as the Met’s top counter-terrorism officer between 2014 and 2018, is said to be in favour of a “broken windows” policing policy, famously enacted by former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, who is widely credited with reducing crime in Big Apple.

The philosophy of a “broken windows” policy is that if officers enforce seemingly minor crimes robustyl, such as vandals breaking windows, this gives a strong signal that worse behaviour will certainly not be tolerated, nips potential future problem individuals in the bud, and reduces crime overall.

“Obviously murder and graffiti are two vastly different crimes. But they are part of the same continuum, and a climate that tolerates one is more likely to tolerate the other,” Giuliani explained in 1998.

The longstanding failures of the Metropolitan Police Service resulted in the force being put under “special measures” late last month by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), which will now increase its monitoring of the Met after a report found that it had failed to recorded some 70,000 crimes and had allowed “a persistently large backlog” of online child abuse cases. The force was also accused of ignoring almost all victims of anti-social behaviour.

In a statement following his appointment as Met Commissioner, Sir Mark said last week: “Our mission is to lead the renewal of policing by consent which has been so heavily dented in recent years, as trust and confidence have fallen.

“We will deliver more trust, less crime and high standards for London and beyond, and we will work with London’s diverse communities as we together renew the uniquely British invention of ‘policing by consent’.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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