Police officers attended the scene of fewer than half of all burglaries reported in Surrey last year, according to Liberal Democrats analysis of official police data.
Of the 2,768 burglaries reported, police only attended the scene in 1,356 cases, representing just 48.99 per cent of the incidents. This means 1,412 burglaries reported to Surrey Police went unattended.
Nationally, almost four in ten burglaries in the country did not result in a visit by a police officer.
In response to the findings, the Lib Dems are calling for a new ‘Burglary Response Guarantee’ to ensure all domestic burglaries are attended by the police and properly investigated. The party attributes the lack of police resources and proper community policing as reasons for the high number of unattended burglaries.
The Conservative government, according to the Lib Dems, has left police forces overstretched and under-resourced by removing more than 4,000 Police Community Support Officers since 2015, and failing to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers by the end of March 2023 as promised.
Will Forster, leader of Surrey Lib Dems, expressed his concern over the number of unattended burglaries in the county, stating that no family should be denied justice after being subjected to the distress and trauma of being burgled.
He also claimed that the Lib Dems would ensure that the police attend the scene of all domestic burglaries and investigate them properly.
In response, Surrey Police said the force is committed to deploying officers to all home burglaries and are already investing significant resources in preventing and tackling these offences.
Each of the three divisions in Surrey has its proactive team that reviews all burglaries in that division. These teams monitor ongoing burglary trends and patterns, identify hot spot areas, and target prolific and repeat offenders and organised crime networks to ensure that patrols are directed in a targeted and most effective way.
Changes to how burglaries are classified were introduced on April 1, 2023, which will allow officers to give a greater focus on home burglaries and help to meet the National Police Chiefs’ Council pledge of attending all home burglaries.
The changes will mean that residential burglaries are split into two categories, with all sheds, outhouses, and garages with no connecting door to the home classified as unconnected buildings.
Surrey Police also advised residents on measures they can take to prevent burglaries.
A spokesman said: “Many of the residential burglaries reported are shed or garage break-ins and we continue to run awareness-raising campaigns in our local communities to remind homeowners of the steps they can take to avoid becoming a victim.”
Surrey Police is also trialling a system in which residents in North Surrey can upload video footage and images that they think could assist burglary investigations through a public CCTV submission portal, with plans to introduce this to East and West Surrey later in the year.
Report suspicious activity and those selling stolen property by calling 101.
Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend said: “Burglary is a frightening and distressing crime that can make people feel incredibly vulnerable, and we must do all we can to bring those responsible to justice.
“Surrey Police is committed to deploying officers to all home burglaries. In April this year, changes were made to the way burglaries are classified. This was done in order to give officers more time to focus on burglary offences that specifically relate to people’s homes.”