Burglary Sanction Detection Rates

MQT on 2015-09-16
Session date: 
September 16, 2015
Question By: 
Joanne McCartney
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Why is the sanctioned detection rate for burglary in London so low?


Answer for Burglary Sanction Detection Rates

Answer for Burglary Sanction Detection Rates

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Look, it is a very good question.  The burglary rate has fallen very dramatically, down to its lowest level since 1974.  It has come down by 25% since 2012 when we set the MOPAC Challenge 20% reduction target.  There are 24,000 fewer burglaries every year.  That is partly because of a great deal of crime prevention work that is going on in London.  SmartWater is being extensively used.  Homes generally are thought to be more secure.  There is less to steal very often in homes.  We are very encouraged by that.

The sanction detection rates have gone down as well.  That is troubling.  The reason for this is basically because the practice of having offences taken into consideration has been radically curtailed.  Previously when they arrested a burglar they would say to him, “All right, Nosher, we have you for this one.  Here is a list of other burglaries that have taken place in the neighbourhood.  Do you want to confess to them as well in order for your offence to be mitigated in some way?”  The burglar would say, “Yes”.  All those crimes would be marked as having been cleared up.  That clearly was probably leading to some abuse.  Certainly it meant that the figures on sanction detection were not being trusted.  That is the reason why sanction detection rates have gone down.  We are working very hard to make sure that we do really crack this and that, when we get a burglary, we solve it.

Joanne McCartney AM:  Mr Mayor, I am aware of the recording change.  Even if you disregard that compared to other similar forces, such as Greater Manchester and West Midlands, the MPS does perform poorly.  Particularly concerning are the sanction detection rates and the variance between boroughs.  For example, in Barking and Dagenham the sanction detection rate is 13%, in Merton it is 10%, but in Barnet it is 3% and Greenwich 4%.  It looks like there is more - or better - detective work going on in some boroughs than others.  Are you able to account for that disparity?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Part of the reason may be that burglary rates have come down at different rates in those boroughs.  There have been very substantial falls.  In Enfield burglaries have gone down by 18% since 2012. 

Joanne McCartney AM:  This is the sanction detection rate, not the total number of burglaries.  And if they had gone down, you would expect -- 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The primary thing you want to do, obviously, is to cut burglaries.

Joanne McCartney AM:  My question is on sanction detection rates.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I understand.  The remaining crimes that are being committed may be, for some reason, more difficult to resolve.  I am speculating now, Joanne.  It may be that it is easier to catch the clods and the idiot burglars and to bring them to justice than it is some of the more proficient who remain in the game.  I have to say I am purely speculating there.  That may be an explanation.

Joanne McCartney AM:  Perhaps you could find out from what you know; it would be helpful.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The important fact is that the crime of burglary is coming down and I am proud of that. 

Joanne McCartney AM:  The other issue in this is that the MPS has the second worst performance in the country for victim satisfaction for solving burglaries.  We do know that Safer Neighbourhood teams now have the role of visiting victims.  The MPS Commissioner launched a policy two years ago that they would visit every victim of burglary.  Do you think with the scale of cuts we have coming down the line that he will be able to keep that promise or are you looking at changing that?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  That is a very important part of the pledge that we made to Londoners.  If you report a crime, you will get a visit from the police.

Joanne McCartney AM:  You are certain that you will still maintain that?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Absolutely.