FIGURES obtained by the Mercury this week have revealed 73% of crimes committed over the last two years in Sedgemoor remain unsolved.
The figures, from a Freedom of Information Act request, show 578 crimes were reported between January 2012 and January 2014, including arson, robbery, thefts from homes and businesses, assault and rape. Of those 412 are unsolved.
The number is broadly in line with the national detection rate, according to Home Office figures.
But Bridgwater Mayor David Loveridge was so shocked by the figures he has issued an open invitation for Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens to meet him.
He said: “The fact that the number of unsolved cases is this high is scandalous.
“What does that say about policing in our area? We shouldn’t be cutting our police force – we should be getting even more police on our streets.
“I think Ms Mountstevens should come to Sedgemoor and explain these figures to people and tell us what the police are doing to improve them.”
Bridgwater MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said: “I’m surprised by these figures. The number of crimes in the Bridgwater area has dropped over the years and this detection rate doesn’t seem to reflect that.
“I’ll be contacting the Chief Constable to see why the figures are so high and what we can do to help. Could it be because of cuts to police resources, for example? Are people not coming forward enough with information? I want to make it clear that Bridgwater’s a safe town and we need to work to keep it that way by ensuring that criminals are brought to justice.”
Ch Insp Paul Mogg, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: “We try to ensure victims receive the best possible service and investigation we can provide.
“We look at each crime on a case by case basis, and allocate resources and time accordingly, taking into consideration the nature of the crime and the information available to us.
We never close cases. Though we may have exhausted the conventional checks such as house-to-house, checking CCTV, and appealing for witnesses, we will also re-visit if new information comes in.
“A detailed or complex enquiry, such as an arson, robbery or rape, can take much longer and would therefore appear as undetected for a period of time.”
The 412 unsolved crimes include seven cases of rape out of 13 reported over the past two years.
Rowan Miller, director of Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS), which includes the Sedgemoor area, said: “People have this concern there are strangers waiting to pounce in dark alleys but that is really rare.
“The majority of rapes are carried out by someone the survivor knows, not strangers. In about 90% of cases, the survivor knows their attacker.
“Around 85% of people do not report a rape to the police and 40% never tell anyone – 13 rapes over two years is the tip of the iceberg.”
Ms Miller said there are a number of reasons rapes go unreported, often because the survivor is scared the situation will get even more out of their control by taking court action.
“People get justice in many ways, and sometimes that can come by just telling someone what happened and having them believe you. Rape’s a very complicated crime and that may be why there are cases still unsolved.”
A report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies on behalf of the Rape Monitoring Group shows in 2012-13 22% of adult rape cases were solved in Avon and Somerset, compared to the national average of 18%.
Other reported crimes in Sedgemoor in the past two years include: 23 cases of arson (19 unsolved, or 83%); seven robberies (three unsolved, 43%); 72 home burglaries (59 unsolved, 82%); 265 thefts from businesses (233 unsolved, 88%); eight assaults with injury (three unsolved, 38%) and 190 minor assaults (88 unsolved, 49%).
Police data also revealed that almost two-thirds of crimes in nearby North Somerset are unsolved, including incidents of rape, arson and burglary – 10,439 crimes were committed there in 2012 with 6,686 unsolved.
Data on the Home Office website says the overall detection rate for 2012/3 was 28.9%.
For support from SARSAS, call 0808- 8010456 or the Taunton office on 01823-324944, or visit www.sarsas.org.uk