police investigation
Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

How good are we at solving crime?

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In almost half (49%) of all offences recorded in 2014/15, the suspect was not identified and the case was closed.

Crime outcomes

The Home Office recently (9 September 2015) published the first bulletin on crime outcomes since the new framework was introduced to stop police recording inconsistencies. (Crime outcomes is the new jargon for detection rates.)

The data covers the financial year 2014/15 in which 3,580,638 crime outcomes coveroffences were recorded – an increase of 2.1% on the previous year. When I analysed the last bulletin, published in March 2015 and covering crimes committed in 2013/14, I was intrigued by the differing detection rates for different categories of crime.

Only about one fifth of theft (18.3%) and robbery (20.8%) offences were solved and the offender dealt with. Whereas just over one quarter (27.4%) of sexual offences and just over two fifths of offences of violence (41.7%) were solved. I also found it interesting that in almost a quarter of those violent offences where the offender was arrested, s/he was dealt with by way of a caution.

Here are eleven things I found interesting from the current bulletin.


Eleven things you probably didn’t know about crime outcomes

1: In almost half (49%) of all offences recorded in 2014/15, the suspect was not identified and the case was closed.

This rate varied considerably between categories of offence, ranging from 1% of drug offences to 70% of theft offences. Around 12% of violent and sexual offences were closed with no suspect identified.

2: One third of sexual offences experienced “evidential difficulties”.

Sexual offences were also the category with the highest proportion of crimes (37%) remaining under investigation

3: One in six (16.7%) offences which had been assigned an outcome resulted in someone being charged or summonsed.

This was a drop from 17.2% the previous year.

4: A further 5% recorded crimes resulted in cautions.

5: Just 8.3% of offences of criminal damage or arson resulted in someone being charged/summonsed.

6: While 59.5% of possession of weapons offences resulted in a charge/summons.

7: Half of drug offences recorded in 2014/15 were assigned out-of-court outcomes.

This was a far higher proportion than all other offence types, although around half (48%) of these out-of-court outcomes were accounted for by cannabis/khat warnings.

8: A total of 3,580,638 offences were recorded in 2014/15.

9: In 1,516,364 of these the investigation was completed without a suspect being identified.

10: There were 20,409 fewer cautions in 2014/15 compared to the previous year, a drop of 12.4%.

The proportion of offences dealt with by means of caution fell from 4.7% in 2013/14 to 4% exactly in 2014/15.

11: There were a total of 230,630 fraud offences recorded in 2014/15.

Offences of fraud are now recorded by Action Fraud who reported that only 3.9% fraud offences resulted in someone being charged/summonsed. No accurate comparable figures exist for the previous year.


Related posts you might like:

Ending gang violence and exploitation

Street gangs are becoming less visible in public, and more fluid in the way they organise. A key gang tactic is to exploit vulnerable people, but this problem is often hidden. This change is one of the main drivers behind this Home Office document which prioritises both reducing gang related violence and preventing the exploitation of vulnerable people by gangs by setting six new priorities.

Read More »
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