Police arrest half as many people as they did a decade ago despite record levels of crime

Police forces have been accused of letting criminals off the hook as new figures show arrests in England and Wales have halved despite crime reaching record levels.

The total number of arrests has gone down from 1.5 million in the year ending March 2008 to 779,660 in the year ending March 2017, a drop of 48 per cent. Arrests have fallen 12 per cent in the past year alone - writes telegraph.co.uk.

Meanwhile the total number of recorded crimes has risenabove 5 million for the first time . Figures released earlier this month showed a 13 per cent year on year rise in crime in England and Wales.

The Home Office said the fall in arrests was partly down to a strategy of keeping young people out of jail using cautions and warnings rather than arresting them.

But a former home secretary warned that such a sharp drop in arrests would send “a signal” to criminals that they “can get away with” crime. Justice campaigners said victims had been “marginalised” by police forces that increasingly treat common crimes such as burglary and criminal damage as trivial matters.

S eparately, the Home Office figures showed that black people are now eight times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, which the Home Secretary said would need to be explained by chief constables.

A rrests have plummeted at a time when some forces have diverted huge resources to investigating historical sex abuse allegations that have later been discredited. Senior officers have also come under fire for allowing a series of "silly stunts" such as officers painting their fingernails, playing in dodgem cars and posing in fancy dress.

In the year to March 2017, only 11 per cent of crimes resulted in someone being charged. In 48 per cent of all cases, no suspect was identified.

Only 8 per cent of reported theft offences resulted in charges; for criminal damage the figure was 6.4 per cent.

The Home Office said the drop in arrests was partly down to "greater use of other outcomes, such as community resolutions, as part of efforts to reduce the number of young people entering custody".

But Lord Blunkett, the former Labour home secretary, said that such a sharp drop in arrests would encourage crime.

H e said: “Police are reluctant to arrest people because of the amount of paperwork involved, so officers are encouraged to give warnings rather than arrest people.

“That means people are on the street who might otherwise be prosecuted and it sends a signal that reverberates very quickly, which will lead criminals to think they can get away with it.”

H arry Fletcher, of the Victims’ Rights Campaign, said: “We know that crime has gone up by 13 per cent in the last year at a time when investigations are increasingly being discontinued.

“This does not inspire confidence in the justice system for victims who increasingly feel they are being marginalised by the police and the justice process.”

Official Home Office statistics show that arrest rates vary hugely between different forces, partly because of variations in crime rates in different force areas. The Cleveland force had the highest arrest rate, at 22 per 1,000 people, with Devon and Cornwall recording the lowest, at around 7 per 1,000.

A rrests for violent crime accounted for 37 per cent of the total in the year to March 2017, with theft making up 22 per cent.

David Green, chief executive of the Civitas think-tank, said: “The police are unable to cope with the volume of crime, and the 20,000 drop in police numbers is bound to have made a difference.

“On top of that the police waste their time on historical sexual abuse cases when there are more important priorities.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Arrest is just one of the powers police possess to tackle crime and the number of arrests fails to capture trends such as the increase in voluntary attendance at police stations and the use of community resolutions."

T he data release also shows that black people are more than eight times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people and more than three times more likely to be arrested.

T he number of people who were stopped by police fell by 21 per cent year on year, but stops of white people fell far faster than stops of black people, leading to a growing disparity in the treatment of people with different ethnic backgrounds.

In the year to March 2015 black people were four times more likely to be stopped than white people, but in the space of two years the gap has doubled.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said Chief Constables would have to explain the disparity.

She said: "When stop and search powers are used properly, in a targeted and intelligence-led way, it is a vital policing tool and officers will always have my full support...

"However, no one should be stopped because of their race or ethnicity. Chief Constables will need to explain disparities in their force areas because if stop and search powers are misused, it is counter-productive and damages confidence in policing.”

How likely is it that the police will manage to catch the person who burgles your house?

T he latest figures from the Home Office show that there are many crimes where police are unable to find the culprit.

Nine out of 10 home burglary investigations, for example, are closed without a suspect being identified.

In cases like this police deem the crime to have been investigated "as far as reasonably possible" based on the evidence available with the case then closed "pending further investigative opportunities becoming available".

Use The Telegraph's interactive tool to find out how many crimes go unsolved in your area.

Read more news of London on our site.

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