If you live at an odd-numbered house, we'd probably recommend you get loading up on extra-strong locks as soon as you can.
Leicestershire Police have revealed that a pilot scheme has been running for the last three months where burglaries at odd-numbered houses were not fully investigated by one police force.
With cuts in central government funding already at £33.9m over the last year and more expected, police are under pressure to cut costs and had found in a previous piece of analysis by East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) that forensic investigations were of limited value: of 1,172 attempted burglary scenes, few had any forensic evidence and only 33 suspects had been identified. They therefore ran the experiment, with Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Clive Loader unaware of it.
Leicestershire Police then stated that the pilot scheme had had no adverse effect on public satisfaction or crime rates. We suspect that public satisfaction may have been lower had they known that that they were not getting the 'full service' as they lived at number 7 and not number 8.
Jo Ashworth, the director of forensic sciences within the unit explained that, "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 added that "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."
But don't worry - apparently forensic teams were still sent to burglaries that happened on properties containing vulnerable people, or if they were thought to be part of a wider crime pattern. So that's a relief.
Eric Tindall of Melton Mowbray Neighbourhood Watch said: "If you live on one side of the street you're going to get the 100% support and services from our police force, and on the other side you're going to get what's left over. It does announce to the criminal element, that they can go down one side of the street not being so cautious as to what they get up to, but on the other side they are going to be more cautious."
Meanwhile, Leicester South MP Jonathan Ashworth called the scheme "ridiculous and haphazard" and said he would be writing to the home secretary and chief constable.
Olwen Edwards, from Victim Support in Leicestershire, said: "All victims of crime deserve their cases to be robustly investigated. This may not always involve collecting forensic evidence, but where this doesn't happen, the police should explain the reasons why."