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34,000 reported crimes ‘dropped within 24 hours without investigation by Met’

Reports of violent assaults, sex attacks and burglaries were among the offences that were dropped.

The number of crimes dropped without investigation within 24 hours by the Met more than doubled to over 30,000 in the space of a year, according to new figures.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Guardian revealed that 34,164 incidents reported in 2017 were dropped within one day of being reported – up from 13,019 the year before.

So far in 2018, 18,093 cases have been closed without further investigation, the FOI found.

Reports of violent assaults, sex attacks and burglaries were among the offences that were dropped.

The number of sexual offences abandoned within a day increased from 20 in 2016 up to 49 in 2017, and 32 have been dropped so far in 2018, the Guardian said.

It added that 303 cases of violence resulting in injury had been screened out – the process used to decide which offences are investigated and which are abandoned – so far this year, compared to 209 throughout 2016.

Last year, 4,670 cases of arson and criminal damage were dropped on the first day, up from 2,284 in 2016.

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Police tape at a crime scene (Peter Byrne/PA)

In October last year, the Met announced more lower level crimes would go uninvestigated as Scotland Yard battles to meet spending cuts.

Deputy assistant commissioner Mark Simmons said at the time: “Of course we are not talking about things like homicide, kidnap, sexual offences, hate crime or domestic violence, but the lower level, higher volume offences such as shoplifting, car crime and criminal damage.

“This is not to say these cases will not be investigated further, however by applying the assessment policy we will be able to determine very quickly if it is proportionate to do so.”

On Friday, the Press Association reported that police across England and Wales close investigations without identifying a suspect in three quarters of reported vehicle thefts and four out of five residential burglaries.

No suspect is identified in almost half of shoplifting cases.

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Metropolitan Police recruits saluting during a passing out parade (Nick Ansell/PA)

The 44 forces logged 106,334 offences of theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle in 2017/18, the highest tally for an equivalent period since 2009/10.

For 81,788 of these offences, the outcome was “investigation complete – no suspect identified”.

West Midlands Police and the Metropolitan Police closed 91% and 85% of vehicle thefts they recorded without a suspect being identified respectively, the analysis found.

Only City of London Police had a higher percentage, at 96%, although it recorded the smallest number of such offences, with 54.

All but five forces closed over half of these cases without identifying a suspect.

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A police car attending an incident (Victoria Jones/PA)

Deputy chief constable Amanda Blakeman, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for acquisitive crime, said increased demand and fewer officer numbers have led to forces prioritising cases with a realistic prospect of prosecution.

She added: “Police investigate all cases of theft, burglary and shoplifting. Particularly for these types of offences, police focus on targeting prolific offenders, organised crime networks, and ensuring prevention measures by homeowners and businesses are in place.”

The Met said its new crime assessment policy does not mean some crime types are not investigated, adding that cases initially screened out can be reopened if forensic work produces results.

Alex Mayes, of charity Victim Support, told the Press Association: “News like this could undermine confidence in the criminal justice system and prevent people reporting in the future.”

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