The number of arrests for theft in Thames Valley has fallen by more than a third 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 4,084 arrests were made for a theft offence by Thames Valley Police in the 12 months to March.

This was down from 6,479 in 2017-18, meaning the number of theft arrests has fallen by 37 per cent in the last five years.

However, the number of theft offences logged fell by just 22 per cent, from 75,761 in 2017-18 to 59,070 last year.

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

Matthew Barber, police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley said: “Crime is down on these measures since before the pandemic.

"Therefore you’d expect arrests to fall, although there’s not a direct correlation between arrests and offences as one individual may commit several offences covered in one arrest.

“Crime prevention is better than crime detection. I want less people to be victims of crime and that’s what the data suggests. That said in the area of shoplifting there is certainly an issue of under reporting.

Oxford Mail:

“I would hope to see these recorded offences increase in the coming year as we get more reported."

Data shows that charge rates for thefts are very low, with just 4.4 per cent of offences with a recorded outcome resulting in a charge or summons nationally in the year to March. In the Thames Valley, 3.6 per cent led to a charge or summons.

New statistics released by Thames Valley Police on Tuesday (November 21) detailing arrests made from April to September this year, however reveal there has been an 18 per cent increase in those for personal robbery (502 to 592) and a 16 per cent increase in those for residential burglary, including sheds and garages (2,144 to 2,490).

Mr Barber said: "Numerically theft offences are still lower than 20 or 30 years ago. This downward trend is to be welcomed.

"A lot of neighbourhood crime is down from before pandemic due to way we live our lives.

Oxford Mail: Matthew Barber Matthew Barber (Image: Natalie Jezzard)

"There are still challenges to tackle too, shoplifting is underreported and we would like retailers to report this. Focusing on prolific offenders who by some estimates can commit 65 per cent of offences with shoplifting is important, work should be done to identify these people locally and get them in custody.

"Sentences and penalties by the courts also needs to be appropriate. These could be criminal behaviour orders police can apply to the courts for or more intervention to help offenders such as drug treatment programmes."

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A Home Office spokesperson said: "Since 2010, our communities are safer, with theft offences down by 47 per cent and robbery down by 81 per cent.

"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."