Shropshire’s growing burglary problem is not linked to police cutbacks, the assistant chief constable of West Mercia Police has insisted.
But ACC Gareth Morgan warned that with the majority of the cuts yet to take effect, police will have to ensure they have clear priorities when it comes to dealing with crime. The authority has been told it needs to reduce its operating costs by £20.1 million by 2015/16.
West Mercia entered into an alliance with Warwickshire Police earlier this year to help meet the target.
But new figures published earlier this week showed almost 700 burglaries were committed in Shropshire in the past six months – 36 per cent up on the police’s maximum target for this point in the year.
Mr Morgan said the rise was not connected with cutbacks, but warned the force had to be vigilant to ensure the need to make savings did not affect its ability to catch burglars.
“The reality is a lot of the changes are yet to come in place,” he said. The challenges we face around burglary are not related.
“But when we make these changes, they need to be focused so we don’t lose sight of what our priorities are.”
Since April, 692 burglaries have been recorded in the county, well above the official target for Shropshire of 506.
Over the same period 257 have been arrested for burglary, 165 in the past three months.
Police have launched Operation Citadel, an initiative designed to reduce the number of burglaries taking place in the county and across the wider West Mercia region.
The operational tactics include greater analysis of crime patterns and coordinated use of new technology such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition software.
They also include the use of more traditional policing tactics such as sending out high visibility patrols in burglary hotspots.