Michael Simmons Michael Simmons

Crime does pay: Why are so many criminals escaping justice?

(Credit: Getty images)

Crime hit a 20-year-high in Britain this year, yet more of these offences than ever are going unsolved. The stark reality is that, if you’re robbed, mugged or a victim of fraud, it’s less and less likely the police will catch those responsible.

This year, in England and Wales, just 5 per cent of reported crimes resulted in anyone being charged or summoned to court; it’s a big drop from the 15.5 per cent of suspects charged in 2015, when records began. The criminal justice system’s inability to catch and punish criminals has effectively decriminalised many crimes. Villains now operate in broad daylight with little fear of being caught. This lawlessness blights communities across Britain – and it spells trouble for a Prime Minister who has said he feels personally ‘committed’ to cracking down on crime.

Anyone living in a big city or town can see for themselves the effects of crime. Just the other day I opened my front door (in North London) to pop to the shops. Almost immediately I saw a hooded man in his mid-thirties put his hand in the pocket of a woman walking in front of him and steal something from her. In broad daylight. 

Other times on my street I’ve seen mass brawls going uninterrupted for 30 minutes. Rarely, if ever though, have I seen a police officer. In my street, as in many parts of Britain, offenders seem to operate as if they know they won’t get caught. The official data backs up this brazen view: recorded crime (figures from police databases) in the most recent yearly figures stands at 6.5 million offences.

The biggest rise in crime has been sexual offences, which now stand at a record high of 196,889 – more than a fifth higher than before Covid. Yet only 3 per cent of sexual offences result in a suspect being charged. The next biggest increase was in thefts; only 4 per cent of those cases result in a charge.

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