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The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into the police's work on crimes against property

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Summary

Background and goal of the investigation

The Government's criminal justice policy is intended to contribute to making society safer. The police force is tasked with safeguarding people's security by combating crime. Crimes against property dominate the overall crime statistics, but are the crimes with the lowest clear-up rate. In 2010, crimes against property accounted for 59 per cent of all reported crimes.

The goal of the investigation was to assess the extent to which the police's work on crimes against property is in accordance with the intention of the Storting to improve prevention, react more quickly and to clear up more crimes.

Method

The investigation is based on a document review, interviews, a questionnaire survey and statistical analysis.

Relevant evaluations, studies, governing documents and annual reports in this area have been reviewed. A questionnaire survey of all police districts was also conducted. In addition, interviews were conducted with five police districts and the National Police Directorate. Statistics from the National Police Directorate and Statistics Norway were also used.

Results

The total clear-up rate for crimes against property has been relatively low during the whole period since 2006, and it fell steadily until 2010. The clear-up rate in 2010 was 16.6 per cent, down from 17.2 per cent in 2006. The total clear-up rate includes bicycle thefts and aggravated thefts from the person in public places.

For the country as a whole, the clear-up rate for housebreaking was relatively low during the period, and lower than for crimes against property overall. The clear-up rate for housebreaking was 13.9 per cent in 2010, compared with 13.1 per cent in 2006.

The investigation shows that there are several reasons for the low clear-up rate for crimes against property during the investigation period from 2006 to 2010. Some crimes against property are difficult to clear up due to a lack of clues. The investigation shows that some police districts have a higher clear-up rate than others. The explanation for the differences between these police districts and comparable districts does not appear to be differences in resources or geography, but the work methods employed.

The total number of reported crimes against property decreased by around 13,000 from 2006 to 2010. Even though the total number of reported crimes against property fell between 2006 and 2010, a third of the police districts experienced an increase in the number of reported crimes against property. According to the Ministry of Justice, active use of imprisonment on remand, swift case processing, the confiscation of vehicles and the expulsion of people who commit crimes of this kind are important ways of combating crimes against property committed by mobile criminals. The reduction could also be due to other factors, however. The police's national population survey from 2010 shows that the most frequent reason for not reporting a crime against property is a lack of confidence that the police will investigate the matter and that people therefore assume that the case will be dropped. There is therefore reason to display a certain caution in interpreting the reduction in the number of reported crimes against property as an improvement in the results in this area.

It is a goal that the police should enjoy high confidence among the general public. Confidence in the police force is lower, relatively speaking, among those who have used the police's services than among those who have not used the police's services. The police's national population surveys also show that the police's work on crimes against property such as theft and housebreaking is one of the factors that score lowest as regards the police's reputation.

Ministry/ministries:

Riksrevisjonen, Storgata 16, P.O. Box 8130 Dep, 0032 Oslo, Norway

Phone: +47 22 24 10 00

Org.nr: 974 760 843