A new breed of police sleuths is helping to solve crimes in Leeds at record speeds – without leaving the office.
The so-called real-time investigators use high-tech intelligence databases to close the net on burglars often within minutes of break-ins.
Their introduction about six months ago has been credited with contributing to an unprecedented drop in burglary rates over the normally busy winter period.
Between October and December, break-ins fell by 18 per cent compared with the same period the year before – the biggest on record for the three-month period. Police expect burglary rates for the current financial year to be the lowest since records began.
The real-time investigators begin inquiries on police databases as soon as crime reports come in, trying to match descriptions of suspects to known criminals, looking at recent crime patterns and checking the details of vehicles known to have been involved.
They are responsible for co-ordinating the response to burglaries as quickly as possible.
PC James Birks, who has been doing the job since September, explainedthat in one recent example, the arrest of a burglar near a crime scene in Bramhope led police to his accomplice.
He said: “I was able to work out who his mate was. I deployed officers to his house which wasn’t too far away. He was seen coming back out of breath, with muddy feet. So we had them both for burglary.”
Last year the number of burglaries in Leeds fell to 4,800 – down from more than 16,000 in 2003.
Chief Supt Paul Money, commander of Leeds division, said: “There are certain officers who thought we’d never see these kinds of numbers.
“We’re getting things a lot more right than we were. It’s just a case of continuing to do it.”