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Rise in burglaries sees residents pay for private security



A rise in burglaries and other crime has prompted an increasing number of residents to pay for their own private security or even patrolling themselves.

Sky News has learned the number of burglaries going unsolved in England has jumped by at least 8%.

A freedom of information request revealed that over 200,000 cases are closed with “no suspect identified” every year.

Across 28 police forces, more than 235,000 burglaries went unsolved in 2017 compared to over 218,000 in 2016.

The first six months of this year also saw more than 105,000 cases closed with no suspect identified.

Sparta Security in the north-east says it has had to double its workforce in the last 12 months because of demand.

Julian McBride, a general manager at Sparta, told Sky News they actively recruit ex-military personnel and close protection officers, informally known as bodyguards.

Julian McBride: 'a lot of it is just being boots on the ground'
Julian McBride: ‘a lot of it is just being boots on the ground’

He said: “We have a lot of houses that ask for the support of Sparta… a lot of it is just being boots on the ground, showing a presence and seeing who is about.

“Challenging people if we think they’re up to something but challenging them in a correct manner not just in an abrupt manner.

“If we see them commit a crime we try and gather evidence and alert the police, which we like to think we have got a really good reputation with.

“The police do a fantastic job it’s just that they had some cuts… so they can’t attend as many incidents.”

Some local councils employ Sparta to look after events and businesses.

Sunbed shop The Beach Hut in Darlington pay Sparta monthly for nightly patrols after they were burgled.

Mark Savage, owner of the business, said it gives him “peace of mind”:

Sparta Security in the north east says it has had to double its workforce in the last 12 months
Sparta Security in the north east says it has had to double its workforce in the last 12 months

“If there are patrols going around it makes there less chance of burglaries,” he said.

“I just think the way the police force is at the moment, probably stretched, they just don’t have the facility to do those regular checks that they used to many years ago.”

Che Donald, vice chair of the Police Federation said: “It’s a sad indictment of government where opportunities exist for a privately funded firms to fulfil the role of policing, because police cannot cope with the demands placed on an overstretched, understaffed and underfunded service.”

Darlington police, however, say they have managed to reduce burglaries in the town by 32% compared to last year, and a 4% decrease in crime overall.

Inspector Chris Knox said: “Nationally we are seeing a significant increase in the number of calls made to police – a high number of these are concern for welfare incidents and incidents involving mental health, which require an immediate response.

“These can place a strain on our ability to respond as promptly as we have done in previous years.

Police officers stand on duty following a raid at Granby House, close to Manchester Piccadilly railway station in Manchester, on May 24, 2017
The government has promised an extra £970 million for forces

“I would like to reassure people that County Durham and Darlington remains one of the safest places to live in the country, and Durham constabulary has been rated as ‘outstanding’ for the past three years by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

“Protecting the most vulnerable people remains a force priority and we will do everything we can to provide the best possible service to our residents.”

The government has promised an extra £970 million for forces in 2019 but critics say it is simply not enough.

There is also concern that a ‘two-tier’ system will develop where those who can afford to pay for private security feel safer than those who cannot.

In a statement a spokesperson from the National Police Chiefs Council said: “Resource within policing is under strain as forces deal with rising crime, demand that is more complex, and an unprecedented terror threat with fewer officers and staff available to meet this demand.

“It is for individual chief constables to manage this within their force, and some have already made it clear that police can only prioritise their resources against the greatest harm.

“We encourage communities who have concerns about policing in their area to contact their local Neighbourhood Policing teams.

“These firms should not replace or supplement policing and it is for properly trained officers to intervene when a crime has been committed.

“Where communities wish to fund their own security patrols, we will work with these personnel in the most appropriate way and any reports of crime and evidence provided to police by a third party will always be assessed and dealt with.

“Our advice to anyone who has information about a suspect or witnesses a crime, is to contact police as soon as possible.”

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