An expert has warned that the UK has “many more criminals than police officers and resources”, as shocking figures reveal just two percent of car thefts resulted in a suspect being charged.
The figures also reveal that over 70 percent of thefts are going unsolved across England and Wales.
Just over 2 percent (2,220) of over 97,000 car thefts between January 1 and September 30 last year led to suspects being charged.
In 27% of cases, there were sanctions such as cautions, but these don’t need court appearances or jail time. In 71 percent of car thefts (68,800 cases) no suspects were identified, according to the research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats.
MPs have asked whether stealing cars had been “decriminalised”, with another accusing police of wasting time on “woke” investigations.
According to Umar Zeb of driving offence solicitors JD Spicer, the statistics had more to do with a lack of police resources, as well as the lack in quality evidence common to car theft.
He said: “There are many more criminals than police officers and resources.
“There are so many of these theft from car offences being committed mainly by drug users that the police cannot keep up with.
“You need good quality evidence, and generally this is lacking in most of these cases, with no witnesses or poor CCTV or no DNA. The items stolen are quickly moved on. A single, suspect can commit multiple offences in one session when they are out of their home.”
Sir Ed Davey, Lib Dem leader, pointed the finger at the Home Office for being “asleep at the wheel”, adding: “These shocking figures will leave people wondering if car theft has been decriminalised. This is an outrageous failure.
“People are waking up to find their car gone and the police too overstretched to actually catch the criminal.”
Mr Zeb added that one police officer told him a single suspect was responsible for “the majority of theft from motor vehicles” in the area, and police would “pick him up thesmelves and drop him off to all of his benefit and drugs related appointments just to act as a taxi to stop him from committing offences and to encourage him with his rehabilitation and provide all support needed.”
More coppers would not necessarily solve the situation, the lawyer stated, and argued there are other “more serious issues to address before car crime”, including “significant antisocial behaviour crime.”
He said: “The public does not want to pay more tax to have more police officers and resulting criminal justice system workload. The police can’t be everywhere and hence cannot police every vehicle and street.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently announced a crackdown on antisocial behaviour, including increased police presence in certain “hotspot” areas.
The new slate of laws will also require offenders to make amends for the harm they caused to victims and communities within 48 hours of committing the offence.
The police have been accused by Tory MP Peter Bone of being too focused on “woke” investigations therefore giving a lack of charges for theft.
He said: “What people want to see is the police investigating crimes such as burglary, car theft and vandalism. They’re not interested in the so-called woke concerns and investigations that some forces seem to be carrying out.
Mr Zeb responded: “Every case depends on its own merits. The police are obliged to investigate all offences of discrimination. This is what the public expects.”
He added however that: “We are sometimes called in to advise and defend suspects on relatively low level or borderline matters which are a waste of police resources and public funding.”
Keyless vehicles have had an impact on the increase in car theft, which allow gangs to use inexpensive equipment to gain access to.
Using this equipment, they are able to re-direct signals from key fobs inside motorists’ homes into cars, unlocking doors.
A Home Office spokesman said: “Vehicle-related crime is down by 18 per cent since December 2019, but we are determined to drive it down further.
“We are supporting police by providing funding for crime prevention measures, including better street lighting and CCTV, delivering 20,000 additional officers and equipping the police with better technology to help catch more criminals.”