Almost half the crimes reported to Greater Manchester Police are not being investigated, we can reveal – including most theft, shoplifting, burglary, criminal damage, arson and public order offences.
A staggering 17,000 violent crimes were not followed up by officers last year, with police chiefs blaming stark budget cuts for the pattern.
Every week the Manchester Evening News newsroom gets calls and emails from victims of crime mystified that the police are not investigating – and today’s figures seem to bear out those concerns.
The only two categories of crime to have bucked the trend since 2014 are murder and drugs possessions offences.
See the chart relating to these figures below
In that period the overall number of incidents reported to Greater Manchester Police has rocketed by nearly three quarters, according to figures released to the Manchester Evening News under the Freedom of Information Act.
At the same time more and more incidents have been ‘screened out’, with no officer allocated to look at them. Some 47pc of reported incidents were not investigated in 2017, compared to 39pc three years earlier.
That included more than three quarters of vehicle offences and thefts such as pick-pocketing and bag-snatching, 70pc of bike thefts, 62pc of criminal damage and arson reports and most burglaries.
One in four crimes listed as ‘stalking or harassment’ are not being looked into, as well as a fifth of weapons possessions. Where around 19pc of shoplifting offences were screened out in 2014, in 2017 the figure had shot up to 62pc.
And while all murders have been investigated, there has been a sharp rise in the proportion of other violent crimes that have not.
Last year more than 17,000 violent offences – many of which resulted in injury – were screened out, almost four times more than in 2014.
There also appears to have been a gradual increase in the number of rape offences screened out, although the numbers are still low.
In 2014, 13 reported cases were not investigated, while 26 have already been left with no officer assigned to them in the first eight months of 2018.
The latest figures also indicate just how much pressure the police force is under.
Data for last year and 2018 to date – which the Manchester Evening News has compared to figures released to the Liberal Democrats last year , covering 2014 to 2016 – show a sharp increase in the volume of crimes reported to the force.
GMP said it had recorded 194,000 crimes in 2014, compared to 335,000 in 2017 – a rise of 72pc.
The parallel trends have been reflected in growing anger within communities across Greater Manchester about a lack of police presence or investigation.
In the summer Oldham MP Jim McMahon warned ‘justice has left the town’ following a steep rise in crime, but shortly afterwards chief constable Ian Hopkins said that without extra money to replace the 2,000 officers Greater Manchester had lost under austerity, the public would need to ‘accept’ the current situation .
He said he understood why the public no longer felt safe in some areas, but added: “I don’t see what the solution is in the long term unless there’s either an acceptance of that kind of policing or there’s an increase in resource.”
Today GMP also stressed that it has to strictly prioritise the crimes it investigates according to how likely they are to get solved, adding that it was ‘vital’ the public continues to report crimes to the police.
However Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley and Broughton, said part of the reason for the current situation still lay with the force’s leadership.
“These figures are an indication that something is seriously wrong with the protection of the public,” he said.
“The government has unreasonably starved the police of resources but the indications are that the police haven’t re-adjusted in line with the public’s needs.
“The police must stop sending out messages from the top that indicate to the police officers on the street that they have given up.”
GMP is not the only force to have seen an increase in the proportion of crimes it screens out, however.
A Dispatches documentary airing on Channel 4 on Monday evening issued similar FOI requests to police forces across the country and found 27pc of offences in England Wales are now being screened out, as officers struggle to cope with the effects of rising crime and falling budgets.
‘I’ll deal with things myself’
Twelve-year-old Isabelle Woods was left scratched, bruised and covered in mud when she was beaten up in a park in Oldham.
Her case hit national headlines earlier this year after we reported how her mum Victoria reported the incident to police , only to be told it wasn’t ‘cost effective’ to investigate the crime, which was filmed by one of her daughter’s attackers.
It was instead suggested to her by officers that she visit the home of their parents instead, she said.
At the time Victoria described that response as ‘diabolical’, adding that her daughter’s school seemed more worried about the attack than the police.
When asked this week whether any progress had been made since, she said she had given up, echoing the sentiments of many readers who have been in touch in similar situations.
“Things don’t seem to be getting any better with the police do they,” she said.
“We’ve had reason to need them again and all we got was a letter saying they won’t be investigating.
“Safe to say I won’t be bothering with them again, I’ll take their advice and deal with things myself.”
‘I did the work for them’
Businessman Alan Baker turned detective himself after police told them they would not be investigating thugs who broke into his Porsche – before using his bank cards 14 times in under two hours.
He told the Manchester Evening News earlier this year how thieves had smashed into his car, which parked on private property, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.
They then took his wallet and racked up spending at shops across Salford.
After being told that officers would not investigate, he followed it up himself, tracking down CCTV of the thieves in action at a Tesco and two newsagents.
“The police didn’t come out to see the damage or take fingerprints from the car,” he said a t the time.
“They just gave me a crime number. I have lost personal items in the wallet my dad gave me 30 years – two valuable £100 Scottish notes, plus photos of my daughters taken 20 years ago.
“I have run around for a week obtaining all the information. They said they were overwhelmed with calls and under-staffed.”
What GMP say
GMP’s assistant chief constable Rob Potts said in a statement: “We prioritise our workload to focus on the most serious crime which represents the greatest threat, harm and risk to the public. We also make decisions on investigations based on ‘solvability factors’ which basically assesses the realistic likelihood of a positive outcome to ensure we maximise the impact of what are public resources at a time when reported crime has significantly increased.
“In many crimes there are no witnesses, CCTV or forensic opportunities, which means there are often no leads for the officer to investigate further.
“Where strong lines of enquiry exist, officers will investigate and we rely on the public to help us do this by reporting suspicious activity or telling us about anybody they know who is involved in crime.
“The fact that we choose not to continue certain investigations following an initial assessment does not mean that no positive action is taken. Investigation is only part of the support that is available to victims of crime; the Victim Services Partnership in Greater Manchester helps support and signpost victims of crime.
“I cannot emphasise enough that it remains vital that the public report all crime to the police; the overall picture of crime is carefully considered when targeting offenders and crime hot-spots. We will continue to work closely with our partners and communities to problem-solve within neighbourhoods to prevent crimes reoccurring.”
What the mayor’s office says
Deputy mayor Bev Hughes, who leads on policing for Andy Burnham, said: “Every victim of crime rightly expects their report to be taken seriously. But these figures lay bare the stark reality of years of central Government cuts – the police simply cannot investigate every crime and have to take difficult decisions about where best to focus their time and resources. They – and I – wish this were not necessary but unfortunately it is.
“However, it is a priority for me and for the Chief Constable that the most serious of crimes that cause the most harm to our communities are fully investigated with no effort spared to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
What the Home Office says
The government said police already have the resources they need to carry out their ‘vital work’, including extra funds raised through increases in council tax.
Prime Minister Theresa May has committed to allocating more cash to forces in next year’s spending review, it added.
A spokesman said: “We expect the police to take all reports of crime seriously, to investigate and to bring the offenders to court so that they can receive appropriate punishment.
“The Government remains alert to changes in trends and new methods used by criminals and we will continue to work with the police, industry and others to consider the evidence and what more can be done to prevent these crimes taking place.
“The deployment of resources is a matter for Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners.”
|Type of crime recorded||Percentage screened out|
|2014||2015||2016||2017||2018, to Aug 28th|
|All other theft offences||51.95||54.52||61.98||65.04||72.77|
|Burglary in a building other than a dwelling||60.61||60.49||63.75||61.36||N/A*|
|Burglary in a dwelling||37.90||46.51||57.25||51.79||N/A|
|Criminal damage and arson offences||58.26||59.98||62.47||62.44||59.19|
|Miscellaneous crimes against society||12.52||14.84||18.69||27.60||27.37|
|Other sexual offences||7.29||8.83||10.32||9.29||8.81|
|Possession of drugs||18.26||18.15||14.85||14.20||11.37|
|Possession of weapon offences||9.38||11.64||14.07||23.96||24.50|
|Public order offences||15.65||23.04||33.75||51.52||48.67|
|Robbery of business property||1.21||2.21||1.04||7.58||6.41|
|Robbery of personal property||10.15||14.40||20.57||19.42||20.89|
|Stalking and harassment||N/A**||N/A||N/A||25.86||25.13|
|Theft from the person||60.40||67.94||76.71||75.05||79.20|
|Trafficking of drugs||1.66||1.34||2.28||3.88||5.68|
|Violence with injury||11.12||14.64||17.32||20.82||20.31|
|Violence without injury||12.71||18.15||23.44||26.94||24.50|
*crime categories changed in 2017, meaning data cannot be compared
**new crime category
Have you been a victim of crime and it hasn’t been investigated – let us know in the comments below?