LABOUR'S candidate for Cumbria Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, David Allen, has expressed concern about the police and local criminal justice system's ability to deal with theft and other routine policing matters, after Home Office figures showed arrests for theft had fallen by a third over the last 5 years.

The data showed that recorded theft offences fell by 14 per cent (from 9,214 in 2017/18 to 7,954 in 2022/23) and that arrests had fallen by almost a third in the last 5 years (from 1468 in 2017/18 to 983 in 2022/23). 

The proportion of criminals being brought to justice is significantly lower (33 per cent) than it was in 2017. 

Commenting, Mr Allen said:  “Members of the public should have confidence that when they report theft there is a reasonable chance that the criminals responsible will be found and dealt with.

"The police should provide a robust response to these offences and the criminal justice system should be ensuring that offenders face justice. On both counts local people are being failed.

"It is alarmingly clear that 13 years of Tory misrule, austerity and cuts to the public sector have left Cumbria’s police and its criminal justice system in tatters and unable to provide the protections and safeguards that the public need and expect.”  

Nationally, charge rates for theft offences are at an all time low, with just 4.4 per cent of offences with a recorded outcome resulting in a charge or summons to court.

Whilst Cumbria Police have a higher charge/summons rate for theft offences than the national average (9.2 per cent versus 4.4 per cent) and a lower fall in arrest rates (33 per cent versus 37 per cent nationally), the fall and overall clear up rate is 'worrying' according to Mr Allen.

"Theft and other criminality is not minor, it blights Cumbria's town centres, causes untold hardships and distress to people in both rural and urban communities, and it has to be seen to be being dealt with if we are to have confidence in the systems that are there to protect us," said David.

A police spokesman said: “Cumbria Police takes all types of theft – from vehicle theft to shoplifting - seriously and offences are investigated thoroughly.

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“Criminality of this nature can have a devastating impact on victims, communities and businesses which is why combating such offending is priority for the Constabulary.

“We will continue to work closely with the business community to go after offenders who target businesses whilst continuing to urge people to report suspicions in their local area so that action can be taken.”