Concern over some crimes not being investigated by Met Police

Labour assembly member claims “government’s underfunding of the Met” is to blame for the force becoming stretched, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

New Scotland Yard and (inset) Unmesh Desai
New Scotland Yard and (inset) Unmesh Desai

Concerns have been raised at City Hall over the number of crimes in London which not being “properly investigated” by the Met Police.

An analysis by the London Assembly’s Labour group has found that for some types of crime, up to two thirds of offences, are being “screened out” by the force.

Screening out is where officers decide that it would not be a practical or proportionate use of resources to launch an inquiry into a recorded crime.

According to Labour’s analysis of offences recorded between January and September 2023, some 66% of thefts from motor vehicles, 57% of bicycle thefts and 31% of arson offences were all screened out.

The figures were sourced by Labour assembly member Unmesh Desai, who said that the “government’s underfunding of the Met” was to blame for the force becoming stretched.

The Home Office responded by saying that the Met is the highest funded force in England and Wales.

Some crime types had much lower screening out rates, according to Labour’s analysis. For example, six per cent of ‘possession of an article with blade or point’ offences were screened out in the first nine months of 2023, and the figure for drug trafficking was 0.7%. The figure for sexual offences was 0.001%, comprising 17 out of 11,838 recorded in Greater London in the first nine months of 2023.

But other crime types were going without investigation at a significantly higher rate, including 40% of criminal damage offences recorded in the period.

Desai said: “It is completely unacceptable that the police are failing to properly investigate so many crimes. The Met have a responsibility to see through an investigation of every crime but we’re seeing burglaries and thefts screened out at alarming rates.

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“The government’s underfunding of the Met has meant that police are being forced to cut corners, failing to serve victims or catch offenders. I wouldn’t be surprised if this means we’ll see more serious, high-harm crimes as a result of police not having the resources to catch criminals before they escalate their offending.”

He added: “Ministers have wrung more than a billion pounds out of London’s police funding – including recently taking more than £30million out of the recruitment budget that is desperately needed.

“The government needs to properly fund our police services and, until then, police leadership needs to be frank with the public about what crimes they’re screening out and why.”

The £30m referred to by Desai was money which had been earmarked for the Met but which was withdrawn by the government, as it was the only force in the country not to meet its recruitment targets.

Responding to Desai, a Home Office spokesperson said: “Ministers have been clear that police must focus on the core business of policing and forces have committed to pursuing all reasonable lines of enquiry for all types of crime, where proportionate to do so.

“The Metropolitan Police is the highest funded force in England and Wales, receiving over a third more funding overall than similar areas like Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.”

The Met Police was also approached for comment.

According to the Home Office, all police forces committed last year “to follow all reasonable lines of enquiry for all crime types” and an understanding was reached that “no crime investigations will now be screened out solely on the basis that they are perceived as ‘minor’”.

However, a letter to police forces from then-Home Secretary Suella Braverman, confirming this new national commitment and understanding, was only sent in August 2023 – towards the end of the period covered by Labour’s analysis.

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