Rivals for a top policing job have locked horns over new stats which show only a quarter of burglaries are solved in Oxfordshire and nearby counties.

Police only crack 24 per cent of burglary cases in the Thames Valley policing area, according to Home Office figures analysed by the Liberal Democrats.

Oxford Mail: Only a quarter of burglary cases are solved in the Thames Valley police areaOnly a quarter of burglary cases are solved in the Thames Valley police area (Image: Watford Observer)

The figures were described as “shameful” by the Lib Dem candidate for Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Tim Bearder.

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Oxford Mail: Lib Dem Tim Bearder said the figures were shamefulLib Dem Tim Bearder said the figures were shameful (Image: Oxfordshire County Council)

He said police should attend and “properly investigate” all domestic burglaries.

But incumbent Conservative PCC, Matthew Barber, said preventing crime was more important than investigating it.

He said residential burglaries are down 36 per cent in the Thames Valley area since 2019 under his watch.

The dispute comes as the election for Thames Valley PCC looms - less than three months away on May 2.

Candidates for the role have been more vocal since the new year as battle lines are drawn.

Oxford Mail: Matthew Barber said tackling burglaries would always be a priorityMatthew Barber said tackling burglaries would always be a priority

Mr Barber called out his own force in a trans sex crime spat last week and Mr Bearder has been criticising his rival on social media.

The Lib Dem analysis shows 213,814 burglaries went unsolved across England and Wales in the year ending September 2023.

The figure – which equates to an average of 586 cases a day - has risen by four per cent from the previous year, the party added.

And just six per cent of cases resulted in a suspect being charged, it claimed.

The Lib Dems criticised the Government for “years of ineffective resourcing” which have left police forces “overstretched and unable to focus on frontline crime like burglaries”.

Mr Bearder, who was announced as PCC candidate last month, said: “Too many people in the Thames Valley feel unsafe in their own home.

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“With the vast majority of burglaries still going unsolved there is a sense of lawlessness and that these criminals are acting with impunity.”

Oxford Mail: St Aldates' police station in OxfordSt Aldates' police station in Oxford (Image: Oxford Mail)

But Mr Barber, who has held the role since 2021, said burglary is a crime he will “always make a priority”.

"The most important thing the police can do is prevent crime,” he said.

“Residents in Thames Valley are now much less likely to be victims of burglary.

“Residential burglaries are down by 36 per cent since 2019 and all neighbourhood crime is down 14 per cent.

“Charges for burglary are up by 11 per cent over the last twelve months.

“Although burglaries are now less likely, if you are a victim it can have a huge impact on your life and family.

“That is why it is a crime I will always make a priority.

“Thames Valley has always had a policy of attending burglaries of people's homes and will continue to do so.”