POLICE failed to identify a suspect in more than three quarters of reported household burglaries in Dorset last year.

Just one in every 20 reports of this crime to Dorset Police led to someone being charged or summoned to court, according to Home Office figures.

In 2018-19, 78 per cent of the 1,913 residential burglaries reported across the county were closed with the outcome listed as "investigation complete – no suspect identified".

The Police Federation said urgent funding is needed to reverse a "soul-destroying" situation for officers, along with rising concerns for residents.

However, an inspector with Dorset Police said detection rates are not the only measure of investigative performance.

Detective Inspector Ross Graham, of Dorset Police's priority crime team, said although a report may not result in a criminal justice action, the crime will still have been investigated.

“Dorset Police continues to work hard to investigate residential burglaries and we have specialist teams working with partners that actively target burglary suspects, prolific offenders and organised criminal networks," said DI Graham. "The force also has specialist officers who investigate crime series and identify ongoing crime trends.

“We also continue to offer crime prevention advice and support to help stop people falling victim to such crimes."

He added: "Even if a criminal justice outcome is not recorded, a huge amount of work can take place including safeguarding vulnerable victims, working with partners to respond to community issues or resolve anti-social behaviour, taking an educational approach for lower-level first-time offenders or organising local restorative justice.

“Every case is reviewed for solvability. While we always investigate all viable lines of enquiry it is also honest and realistic to recognise that some crimes simply aren’t solvable if the information we are provided with or discover through our enquiries does not identify a suspect or provides enough evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction."

Last year in Dorset, six per cent of reported residential burglaries, which includes raids on garages, sheds and outbuildings as well as homes, had a suspect identified and the victim supported an investigation but "evidential difficulties prevented further action", while a further 6 per cent of cases were closed because the victim declined or was unable to support any further investigation. Distraction burglaries are filed as a separate offence.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Having your home burgled can be one of the most devastating and impactful crimes people experience; and its effects can last a lifetime.

“Every police officer joins the job to help people and catch offenders. These statistics will be as soul-destroying for them as they are worrying to the public.

“And with many forces struggling to cope with 999 call demand, and others unable to fill detective positions, it is not surprising some crime types are becoming harder to prosecute.

“What the service so desperately needs is a long-term funding deal to enable all forces to return to a position where they are properly resourced to meet the demands they face."