Leicestershire police today admitted that getting a forensics officer to visit your home after an attempted burglary could be a house number lottery.
The quirky truth is that if you lived in a Leicestershire house with an even number, you could get a visit from a forensics officer, but if you lived in a house with an odd number, you probably couldn’t.
The ‘uneven’ treatment of attempted burglaries was part of a pilot scheme run by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit in Leicestershire to investigate the effectiveness of forensic officers at domestic crime scenes, a statement from Leicestershire police has revealed.
EMSOU’s Forensic Services had previously analysed records of a total of 1,172 attempted burglaries in the region, to which forensic officers had been deployed to recover evidence which might range from fingerprints to blood traces.
They found that despite each house being visited, few domestic crime scenes were found to contain any forensic evidence, and only 33 suspects were identified as a result of the 1,172 visits.
Accordingly, earlier this year a three month “odds v evens” pilot project was run in the Leicestershire Force area. Under the pilot, it was decided that only half the scenes of attempted break-ins in Leicestershire would be visited by forensic officers, to assess whether their attendance made any difference.
It was decided that properties which were the scenes of attempted burglaries with even house numbers would be visited, and those with odd numbers would not, as a simple way of halving the scenes investigated, Leicestershire Police explained.
Police stressed that all reported scenes of attempted burglaries would be visited by a police officer, and that any scene involving a vulnerable victim or believed to be part of a series of crimes would still be visited by forensic officers, without it was at an odd or even house.
The pilot project has so far found that the attendance or otherwise of forensic officers had no noticeable impact on victim satisfaction, and nor did it impact on the overall ratio of scenes visited and suspects identified.
The findings of the pilot will now be scrutinised by EMSOU Forensic Services before any decision is taken about whether the five East Midlands Forces change their policy regarding the attendance of forensic officers at scenes of reported attempted burglary.
Jo Ashworth, Director of Forensic Sciences, EMSOU, said: “The pilot was developed to look at what value forensic teams bring to the detection of attempt burglaries.
“At a time when we are operating within reduced budgets, it is even more critical that we make the absolute best use of our crime scene investigators’ time.”
Leicestershire’s Deputy Chief Constable Roger Bannister said the pilot was just one piece of a whole programme of research to help develop the most cost effective policing model to protect the public.
He said: “The public would expect us to make the very best possible use of our time and limited resources to have the biggest impact on public safety and the prevention and detection of crime.
“This pilot suggests that we may need to reconsider how best to deploy crime scene investigators, especially if we are currently sending them automatically to scenes where, despite their professionalism and expertise, there is no evidence for them to retrieve.”
The “odds v evens” scheme was introduced against a background of year on year cuts to policing budgets across the country, putting pressure on Police Forces to look at ways to deliver a good service with fewer people and at a lower cost.