News

Number of theft arrests in London halved in last five years – despite rise in offences

11,213 arrests were made for a theft offence by the Met Police in the 12 months to March, down from 22,678 in 2017-18 reports Andrew Dowdeswell, Data Reporter

A police officer in a florescent uniform makes notes in a notebook
Decreasing arrest figures followed the trend across England and Wales, where the number of arrests fell by 37% to 88,914 over the same period – (Credit – Radar)

Despite more theft offences being recorded, the number of arrests for theft in London has halved in the last five years, new figures show.

In August, former home secretary Suella Braverman said every theft must be investigated, adding it was “completely unacceptable” that some crimes have been effectively legalised.

Last month, police, retailers and the government launched the Retail Crime Action Plan to improve response times to retail-related crime, including theft and shoplifting.

Home Office figures show 11,213 arrests were made for a theft offence by the Met Police in the 12 months to March.

This was down from 22,678 in 2017-18, meaning the number of theft arrests has fallen by 51% in the last five years.

However, the number of theft offences logged actually rose by 2%, from 403,327 in 2017-18 to 412,237 last year.

Decreasing arrest figures followed the trend across England and Wales, where the number of arrests fell by 37% to 88,914 over the same period.

Braverman told BBC Breakfast: “There is no such crime as minor crime – whether it’s phone theft, car theft, watch theft, whether it’s street-level drug-dealing or drug use, the police must now follow every reasonable line of inquiry.”

Chief constable Amanda Blakeman, council lead for acquisitive crime at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “We recognise how invasive and traumatic it is to be a victim of burglary and theft, and we are already investing significant resources in preventing and investigating serious acquisitive crime.

“Burglary levels have fallen by 51 per cent over the past decade due to this increased investment, and all police forces in England and Wales are now attending every home burglary.

“It is for individual chief constables to manage demand within their force and prioritise their resources, drawing on the support of national standards and guidance.

“We do not consider anything to be ‘low-level’ crime. Each and every crime will have an impact on victims, and this should never be underestimated.”

Charge rates for thefts are very low, with just 4.4% of offences with a recorded outcome resulting in a charge or summons nationally in the year to March.

In London, 1.8% led to a charge or summons. A Home Office spokesperson said: “Since 2010, our communities are safer, with theft offences down by 47% and robbery down by 81%.

“We have also delivered more police officers in England and Wales than ever before and the police have committed to attend all home burglaries and pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry to ensure more crimes are solved and public confidence is improved.”


No news is bad news 

Independent news outlets like ours – reporting for the community without rich backers – are under threat of closure, turning British towns into news deserts. 

The audiences they serve know less, understand less, and can do less. 

In celebration of Indie News Week, Public Interest News Foundation's Indie News Fund will match fund all donations, including new annual supporter subscriptions for the month of June.

If our coverage has helped you understand our community a little bit better, please consider supporting us with a monthly, yearly or one-off donation. 

Choose the news. Don’t lose the news.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month. £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else. £84 annual supporters get a print copy by post and a digital copy of each month's before anyone else.

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly 

More Information about donations