Police statistics

MQT on 2014-10-22
Session date: 
October 22, 2014
Question By: 
Andrew Dismore
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


If a crime is reported of an attempted break in, or actual break in, but with nothing stolen, should that be recorded as a criminal damage offence or as a burglary offence?


Answer for Police statistics

Answer for Police statistics

Answered By: 
The Mayor

The way that crimes are recorded in England and Wales is governed by the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR). HOCR gives examples to assist forces in interpreting the rules, given that in some cases the circumstances of a crime may indicate that more than one type of offence has been committed. The question as to whether an attempted burglary or criminal damage should be recorded will depend on a variety of factors. HOCR states that "Any damage to an entry point of a house should be assumed to be an attempt to enter and burgle the house if, on the balance of probabilities, attempted burglary is considered to be the more likely offence than the criminal damage."  (HOCR 28B). Examples given include damage to a front door lock or a ground floor window, as both are entry points to a dwelling.

If it appears that burglary is the most likely motivation for damage to the outside of premises then the crime should be recorded as an attempted burglary. However if circumstances suggest that criminal damage to the outside of a property was not motivated by an intention to burgle, such as graffiti daubed on a front door, this should be recorded as criminal damage. Similarly an example given in HOCR 58B directs that criminal damage should be recorded if a suspect enters the flat of his ex-partner as a trespasser and places graffiti on the bedroom walls using items found inside the premises. This would also apply to cases where a suspect entered a dwelling as a trespasser merely to shelter or bed-down for the night. Clearly, in these circumstances, there is no intent to steal.

It is important to remember that HOCR cannot cover every eventuality and each case must be judged on its own merits.