Ruffley says 'New report shows more burglars think they won't get caught in Suffolk'

Monday, 15 November, 2004

David Ruffley MP expressed grave concern this week at a new report from the Government admitting that burglars now regard robbing people's homes as a 'virtually risk free' activity.

The new report, compiled by the Home Office, investigated the attitudes of convicted house burglars. Even amongst those who have been caught:

• Only 1 in 10 burglars think there is a 'high likelihood' of being caught during a burglary or while in possession of stolen property.

• Almost two-thirds of burglars returned to a property they had previously burgled.

• 'Few considered it to be risky at any stage… Residential burglary… was regarded as virtually risk free. The threat of detection during the course of a burglary or after disposal of goods was considered an insufficient deterrent'.

• Burglars' main motivation for committing their crimes was the need to fund drug use.

• The most effective way of deterring burglars was targeted and repeated police enforcement activity.

David Ruffley remarked:

'Tony Blair promised to be 'tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime'. That was clearly all talk. This new report exposes the fact that under this Government, crime is out of control and sentences are too lenient. We already knew that the clear-up rate of burglary in the Western Sector of the Suffolk Constabulary, covering both Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket, was just 23%, meaning 3 out of 4 burglars were not brought to justice for the year up to April 2004. No wonder that burglars now regard breaking into people's homes as 'risk free'.'

'This research backs up Conservatives' Timetable for Action to fight crime:

• Tougher sentences- such as abolishing Labour's early release scheme, so burglars serve their full sentence and do not dismiss the threat of prison.

• Cutting political correctness and police paperwork, getting police out onto the beat, and funding 379 more police officers for Suffolk.

• 20,000 extra drug rehabilitation places to reduce the hard drug use that fuels crime.

'It is time we ensured burglars faced the consequences of their crimes. Labour are all talk, while Liberal Democrats don't believe in jailing burglars. Only Conservatives will restore respect, discipline and decent values in our society.'

Notes to Editors

New Home Office research

The Home Office published its report, Decision-making by house burglars: offenders' perspectives on 1 November 2004.

Liberal Democrat policy

Liberal Democrats oppose most burglars being sent to jail.

• 'I'm absolutely convinced that prison is a complete and utter waste of time' (Mark Oaten MP, LibDem Home Affairs Spokesman, interview with Andrew Rawnsley, BBC Radio 4, Westminster Hour, 9 November 2023).

• '[The] assertion that burglars should be universally locked up risks creating a crisis in the prison system' (Mark Oaten, Liberal Democrat press release, 13 January 2023).

• 'If you do an office burglary at the weekend and nick some computers, that sort of offence is perfectly easily dealt with outside [prison]. If you do a burglary of a garage when people are away on holiday that sort of offence may be best dealt with the first time on the outside' (Liberal Democrat President, Simon Hughes MP, BBC News Online, 23 September 2023).

• 'Too many petty offenders are being sent to prison' … 'Non-violent offenders… should expect to be subject to intensive supervision in the community… The offender could pay them [the victim] back in kind by doing physical work in the victim's house or garden' (Liberal Democrat press release / 'Liberal Democrat proposals for tough community sentences', 17 November 2023).

Crime detection statistics

The Government previously published statistics on crime detection rates in July 2004.

Home Office, Crime in England and Wales 2003/2004:

The statistics include crime detection rates by 'basic command unit' areas. 'Detected crimes' are those 'solved' by the police: where an offence has been committed and recorded, a suspect been identified and there is sufficient evidence to charge the suspect. A low detection rate means cases are not be solved and more criminals are escaping justice.

Basic Command Unit - Detection Recorded for Key Offences 2002/03 to 2003/04- Excel chart