Leeds burglary rate shock

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A NEW report brands Leeds as the third worst area for burglary in England.

According to a report by the joint Audit Commission and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, in some parts of Leeds burglary levels are three times the national average.

Offences are particularly high in deprived areas such as Beeston, Harehills and Armley. Student areas are also high on the burglars’ hit-list with offences nine times higher in Headingley, Leeds, than in Wetherby in 2008/09.

Burglary has been a top priority for a city-wide crime and disorder reduction project since April 2009.

The Safer Leeds Partnership is part of the Leeds Initiative an umbrella group covering the council, NHS, police, fire and probation and focuses on improving community safety.

Leeds has seen crime levels fall between 2007 and 2010, with an eight per cent overall crime reduction in 2009/10 and a rate of 93.7 crimes per 1,000 residents just above average for similar cities.

Yet in the past three years the gap between Leeds and the rest of the country for burglary widened. Between April 2007 and March 2010 the rate of burglary per household in Leeds went up 13 per cent, while nationwide it fell by four per cent and in similar cities by seven per cent.

However figures for a recent eight-month period showed Leeds performing well above the national picture and the burglary rate reduced to 11.4 per cent. “Signs of improvement are therefore evident, but it is still early to say how sustained this will be,” states the report.

The report stresses that “challenging circumstances” such as poor quality housing and mobile populations are part of the cause of burglary. The city is said to have above average levels of poor private rented housing and pin-points large estates where “vulnerable young people” are more prone to being “socialised into burglary by peers” and where there is a network for easy disposal of stolen goods.

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While reductions in burglaries in Leeds last year reflected the commitment of Safer Leeds partners, building on that improvement was being hampered by the lack of an up to date strategic approach.

“The partnership has not got a clear and ambitious vision for what it is trying to achieve on tackling burglary,” states the report. “[It] has some ideas on what success would look like, but these have not been fully formed.”

It calls for strengthening of landlords’ licensing conditions for multiple occupancy homes and help to landlords.

The Safer Leeds Partnership is urged to focus on “disrupting and reducing “ stolen goods markets, to review the effectiveness and scope of its integrated offender management programme and to establish a true picture of the effects of burglaries on “emerging communities”.

Faizah Shaheen

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