Chief Constable Serena Kennedy has joined all police chiefs from across the country in supporting a collective decision – for police officers to attend all residential burglary reports. This reflects the longstanding approach in Merseyside to a crime that we have always considered to be terribly intrusive and upsetting for victims.
Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley, at Merseyside Police said: “Both the current Chief Constable, Serena Kennedy, and her predecessor, Andy Cooke, have taken a tough stance on burglary. The force is committed to tackling burglary by not only maximising every opportunity to gather evidence, identify offenders and put them before the courts, but also through its partnership approach to prevention.
“This is why officers are despatched to all reports of a residential burglary and the attendance of Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) is also requested. There are very few circumstances when an officer would not attend, for example if the person reporting is not engaging with officers, which can make it difficult to arrange a visit, or they have specifically asked that an officer does not attend. But even then, we would still explore opportunities for CSI to recover forensic evidence.
“The force is also committed to supporting victims; ensuring they know where they can obtain emotional and practical support, and where appropriate, referring victims to specialist support services to help them cope and recover.
“I have been a police officer for 30 years and during my service I have seen the devastating impact that a burglary can have on the victims of this appalling invasion of privacy. It can be much more than the damage caused, the mess made, and the items stolen. The impact can be immeasurable and incredibly personal with the thought that someone has been in your home, the tainting of memories and a sense of fear that can take considerable time to overcome. I have also been subject to a burglary in my own home and know first-hand the lasting impact this intrusion had on my family.”
Our approach to tackling burglary has recently been cited in examples of good practice by His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in a Police Effectiveness spotlight report focused on serious acquisitive crime, which includes residential burglary.
The report highlighted the force’s approach to crime-scene management, where CSI contact victims directly to ensure the preservation of forensic evidence, and its approach to prevention through offender management, which means partners can help support offenders on a pathway out of reoffending when they leave prison, as examples where Merseyside is leading the way.
The police inspectorate also noted that having a dedicated burglary team – Operation Castle, means the investigation of residential burglaries is conducted and supervised by experienced detectives . Having this dedicated team is something that has inspired other forces, and detectives have visited Merseyside to discuss taking a similar approach in their own force areas .
Detective Inspector Steve Byrom, of Merseyside Police’s burglary team said: “Operation Castle was established in 2018 as a fresh-thinking approach to investigating series-linked burglaries. Since then, the team has been successful in reducing burglary by 55% and securing convictions for burglary offenders with sentences amounting to more than 600 years, but the innovative thinking has not stopped there. In July 2022, we launched a new submission portal that allows the public to upload video footage from their home security cameras or smart doorbells that shows suspicious activity.
“Sometimes homeowners discover they have video footage of someone that they assume is just a trespasser, snooping around the outside of the property. Often, they do not realise its potential evidential value, but this sort of footage can help us build a case.
“The new portal link is aimed at circumstances where there has been no crime reported, but the suspicious behaviour could potentially be related to a burglary. The Operation Castle team has already secured convictions based on footage submitted via the portal and we are very pleased with the positive response from the public.“