Cambs police ""screen out"" thousands of crimes

ALMOST half the crimes reported to Cambridgeshire police – including many burglaries and thefts – were classified by the force as unsolvable . A crime screening process was used on more than 28,000 reported crimes in 2008/9, resulting in a decision – bas

ALMOST half the crimes reported to Cambridgeshire police - including many burglaries and thefts - were classified by the force as "unsolvable".

A crime screening process was used on more than 28,000 reported crimes in 2008/9, resulting in a decision - based on resources and the likelihood of a result - not to investigate the matter further and to close the case.

Cambridgeshire police has defended the use of the screening process, saying it is used at the beginning of a case when there is little evidence or chance of a conviction.

According to figures released by 18 of the country's police forces, Cambridgeshire as one of the highest rates for crime screening.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show the force screened almost half of the 64,790 crimes reported last year. Officers deemed 28,071 or 43 per cent of reported crimes as unsolvable.

Included in these figures were 244 counts of actual bodily harm, 2,929 burglaries, 3,573 incidents of criminal damage to a vehicle, eight sexual assaults, 20 arsons endangering life, one rape of a child under 13, 45 robberies and 12 counts of wounding or carrying out an act endangering life.

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The only police force found to carry out more crime screening than Cambridgeshire was the Met with 48 per cent. This was closely followed by Dorset (46 per cent) and Cleveland (42 per cent).

This is compared to just nine per cent in Leicestershire and three per cent in Essex while 15 other forces said that they did not formally screen crimes.

Cambridgeshire police said the use of screening allows officers to target the most serious and solvable crimes.

A spokesman said: "This is not turning a blind eye, or ignoring crime, nor is it an attempt to inflate the good news statistics, but a reasoned assessment of the chances of achieving a positive result."

She added: "Officers have to balance the chances of spending many hours and weeks trying for a successful detection where there is little or no evidence or witnesses, against more demanding incidents where there is a clear chance of achieving meaningful success for the victim."

The Association of Chief Police has said no crime goes uninvestigated and "screening out" refers to the stage when an investigation is concluded.

INFORMATION: Has Cambridgeshire police adopted the right policy to deal with lesser crimes where there is little chance of conviction? Send your views to editor@huntspost.co.uk

Definition of crime screening:

Crime screening is a method used when an assessment is made of the crime recorded by the constabulary and the likihood of achieving the identification of suspect/offender for that offence. A judgement is then made on the local priority of the offence and the likihood of identifying an offender. A decision is then made whether further enquiries are necessary, would require the use of disproportionate resource, or if the matter can be closed without further investigation.

Crime screening in Cambridgeshire:

Year Total crimesScreened out

2008/09 64,79028,071

2007/0865,30830,117

2006/0769,14631,638

2005/0666,80423,954

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