Norwich Vandalism Crimes: More Than Half Of Cases Closed With No Suspect

In 2018, just 154 crimes ended up with criminal charges being filed, out of more than 1,815 vandalism-related crimes.

By Honey and Hannah, both 15, Norwich · April 14, 2020

Pic: Shutterstock

More than half of vandalism cases in Norwich are closed by Norfolk Constabulary without a charge or identified suspect.

In 2018, there were 1,815 vandalism-related crimes in Norwich, of which 1,019 investigations, 56% were closed without an identified suspect.

In 2017, 65% of cases were closed without an identified suspect, with 64% of cases in 2016 facing the same fate.

From 2014 to 2018, there were 9,376 vandalism-related crimes in Norwich, of which just 927 resulted in criminal charges being filed, a rate of less than 10%.

661 other resolutions were reached, including 297 adult cautions and 70 youth cautions.

The findings were sourced by media literacy charity The Student View in a Freedom of Information request submitted to Norfolk Constabulary. The Constabulary did not provide data for 2019.

However, the Eastern Daily Press reported on a ‘six-week arson attacks spate’ in the Norwich neighbourhoods in July 2019. Norfolk Police also launched an appeal for witnesses in January 2020 after two incidents of suspected arson in Norwich.

The data also showed that over the same five year time period, ‘Other criminal damage to a building other than a dwelling (Under £5,000)’ charges rose from 0 to 172 incidents, while ‘Other criminal damage to a dwelling (Under £5,000)’ rose from 0 to 447 incidents. ‘Other criminal damage to a vehicle (Under £5,000)’ rose from 0 to 674 incidents.

A spokesperson for Norfolk Constabulary said: “Allegations of crime can be reported to the Constabulary via a variety of means, however all require investigative opportunities for officers to be able to progress. If suspects are still at the scene of criminal damage incidents, then this will assist in bringing about successful prosecutions. If however the crime is reported online or via the phone, then at the point of recording a crime the person reporting will be asked pertinent questions to assist in gaining a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances, and establish which crimes have viable lines of enquiry. At this point those without investigative opportunities will be screened out with no lines of enquiry. It is worth noting that even if a crime is initially screened out, there is always the opportunity for the case to be reopened should new evidence come to light.

“Those crimes that aren’t screened out are allocated to an investigator and will have one or more of the following items that can be progressed such as: the presence of CCTV, either private or public; whether there are witnesses, for example, is the location overlooked, can the victim identify if the incident was witnessed and by who, whether forensic recoveries are viable due to a variety of factors such as weather, items used, contamination of evidence by the victim; a named suspect; or another line of enquiry, such as a witness appeal, intelligence etc.”

Why did students cover this story?

Honey and Hannah, both 15, from Norwich, said: “We chose this topic because we have seen many places in Norwich that have been vandalised. We wanted to know how much of it has taken place in the last few years. We also thought the topic was interesting and would apply to several places in Norwich, and to those who have been affected by vandalism.

“It’s important because many of these cases haven’t been solved, making it seem as if people can continue to do this and get away with it, when really, they should not be doing it, so by doing this we can raise awareness for this issue.”

How did it make our journalists feel?

“We found the answers very shocking, because of the high amount of vandalism that took place in the past five years, and the high amount of cases where the suspects weren’t caught. We feel that the police haven’t taken that much notice of the issue, and it is causing more people to continue doing it as they feel that there aren’t any consequences.”