AS The Northern Echo reveals burglary investigations were dropped this year in almost 80 per cent of cases across County Durham and Darlington, Durham Constabulary explain why they are prioritising certain crimes and putting victims first.

WHEN discussing the offence of burglary it is important to understand the context in relation to crime recording of such offences.

Temporary Detective Superintendent Paul Gray, force lead for victim and witness care, said: “On April 1 2017, the category for burglaries were reclassified nationally by the Home Office to ‘burglary residential’ and ‘burglary business and community’.

“This means that burglary residential now includes properties such as occupied houses and flats, garden sheds, outhouses, garages and vacant properties.

Burglary business and community includes shops, licenced premises and allotments.

“It is important to explore all evidential opportunities with each reported offence. Durham Constabulary’s detective sergeants review all burglaries whether they are residential or commercial but there can be a big difference between them; in particular with the impact upon our victims.

“For example, the list identifies some streets in Horden where there are several empty houses and metal thefts, such as boilers and radiators, are more common stolen and classed as a burglary. However, it is harder to identify a standard boiler that has few distinguishing features than it is someone’s personal items that might be stolen from a family home.

“What we really work hard on is putting victims first and delivering a quality service for the them, based on their individual needs, so they are always at the heart of what we do.

“We provide a bespoke service for our the victims and take burglaries extremely seriously. Our ultimate aim is to fully support our victims and individuals affected by burglary and always look to identify offenders and to reunite people with their property.

“By working with our crime scene investigators and looking to closing intelligence gaps through public engagement, we are able to identify not just the offender but also who is handling the stolen goods.

“We work hard to focus on crime prevention and public awareness and understanding what matters to them through our Meet the Detective Roadshows.

“Free security packs which include light timing switches and property marking pens and information are always available from our neighbourhood teams too.

“We want to create better outcomes for our victims by working with our partners, for example, the Crown Prosecution Service, Crown and Magistrates Courts, Probation Service and the Prison Service.

“Restorative work through schemes such as Restorative Justice and Checkpoint aims to curb re-offending. Ultimately, we want to break the cycle of offending and look to find long-term solutions whist giving our victims a voice.”