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Wiltshire Police Federation

Wiltshire Police 'took eye off the ball' on burglaries

22 November 2017

BBC (Web), 22/11/2017, Unattributed

A police force has admitted taking its "eye off the ball" when it comes to burglaries, leading to a 44% rise in three years.

Senior officers in Wiltshire said the force had not paid enough attention to the problem because of pressures on services.

The number of break-ins reached 1,600 in 2016-17, with suspects caught in 5% of cases.

The force has now set up a taskforce to tackle the problem.

Officers will work with existing community policing teams and specialist crime scene investigators.

'Daily challenge'

The number of police officers in Wiltshire has fallen by more than 250 since 2010, according to the Police Federation.

Det Supt Sarah Robbins, the force's head of crime, said: "I think that when you have to respond to 999 calls, and you only have so many police officers to do that, I think we did take our eye off the ball.

"It's a daily challenge. Our officers are working harder than they've ever worked before."

One victim, Fiona Williams, returned from a funeral to find her home in Devizes had been broken in to.

'Most feared crime'

Thieves escaped with cash and jewellery, including her late husband's wedding ring.

"They even took the little bit of gold band that was left from my mum's ring," she said.

"It was fit for nothing but it was my mum's. She died when I was nine. It was the one thing that I had - and they took it. How would they like it if you did that to them?"

Jennie Shaw, from the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust, a charity that helps break-in victims, said burglaries were "devastating".

"We have two operators now that are on the road," she said. "And I know from hearing their stories that it probably is the most feared crime in the UK."