In the Media

Only 16% of solved crimes lead to convictions

PUBLISHED May 31, 2012

The vast majority of incidents are dealt with by officers giving out cautions and fines or taking no further action.

The small proportion of offences that lead to criminal convictions has been disclosed as the Home Office expanded its popular crime maps website, visited more than 47million times since January 2011.

Previously the service only showed how many crimes were committed at street level across England and Wales in a particular month.

Now in a world first, also shows the action taken by forces, in a new section on local "outcomes", as well as the number of ongoing investigations.

It does not disclose the names and mugshots of individual defendants nor the length of sentences, amid fears it could identify victims or damage the prospects of criminals in years to come.

But Nick Herbert, the police minister, said he was in favour of even greater detail and wants the site to be developed further.

He told a press conference: "The public demand will be, 'We want to know more specifically what happened, not just that there was a prison sentence, but what'. Or that they may wish to know who the offender was.

"We will have to address each of those and say firstly, what is technically possible, and secondly, what is the right amount of information to provide.

"There should be transparency, there should be open justice, unless there are compelling reasons not to."

He added: "People don't just want to know that crimes have been committed in their street. They also want to know what happened. I think people are entitled to this information."

Assistant Chief Constable David Peacock of the National Police Improvement Agency, disclosed that the vast majority of cases solved are dealt with outside of court.

Between 2009-10 and 2010-11, 84 per cent of crimes resolved were dealt with by police, either through cautions, Fixed Penalty Notices, no further action or restorative justice projects that bring offender and victim together. None of these goes on a criminal record.

The remaining 16 per cent of cases went to court.

Mr Peacock said: "They're obviously the more serious cases or relate to offenders who on previous occasions have not taken the warnings they've received and therefore have to be dealt with in the criminal justice system."

So far the crime-mapping website includes 184,276 outcomes reached between January and March this year.

But analysis of the data by The Daily Telegraph shows that over the same period, 1,482,692 new crimes were added to the site - almost 10 times as many as were solved.

Officials have had to painstakingly match the results of court cases or police action to reported offences, with varying degrees of success as a result of the different IT systems used in the 43 forces across England and Wales.

In Gwent just 8 per cent of crimes this year had been successfully matched to court records, compared with 95 per cent in South Wales.

The website now shows the number of crimes that took place in a given month within eight postcodes, including particular locations such as railway stations or nightclubs.

It also includes the outcomes of cases, ranging from "under investigation" to "unable to prosecute suspect" and "defendant sent to crown court". Only the basic number of cases are listed, not the length of sentence or details of the defendant.

For the postcode covering New Scotland Yard, for instance, the website shows 2,940 crimes were recorded during April 2012 ranging from 1,089 thefts to 688 incidents of anti-social behaviour.

In the same month, there were 2,364 outcomes but 1,991 of these were "under investigation". In just 127 cases were suspects charged and in 137 offenders were given cautions.