SHOCK new figures have revealed Burnley as the burglary capital of England and Wales.
The statistics from the Home Office’s new Crime Mapping system, show the borough had more burglaries per head of population than any other town or city.
The figures revealed there had been 2,154 break-ins between April 2008 and 2009, a rate of 24.6 per 1,000 people.
The next worst areas were Manchester, with 23.7 per 1,000 and Nottingham, 22.3, while Ribble Valley was the 10th safest area nationally with 3.9 per 1,000.
In Blackburn with Darwen the statistics were less than half of Burnley’s, with 10.2 burglaries per 1,000, while the figures for the rest of East Lancashire were Hyndburn 7.5, Pendle 11 and Rossendale 8.5.
Senior officers said that while the statistics could not be disputed, the situation had improved since April thanks to a number of hard hitting operations.
They blamed the burglary problem on high unemployment and drugs problems in the town.
Chief Inspector Jon Bullas said: “There is a fantastic amount of work going on with the Community Safety Partnership just around crime in general, and in particular burglaries.
“We recognise the impact they can have on people.”
From April last year to February 1, there had been 1,399 burglaries, which suggests the number of crimes are falling, an average of 139 a month compared to 179 the previous year.
Mr Bullas said: “These figures include non-domestic burglaries, such as sheds, garages and offices and the majority of burglaries are not committed at people’s houses.”
He said a number of initiatives and operations, including monitoring repeat offenders and making vulnerable homes safer by fitting crime prevention devices, were being carried out to tackle burglaries.
Mr Bullas said: “We are confident we are going the right way.”
Coun Charlie Briggs, chairman of the Community Safety Partnership, said: “There will be links between burglaries and drug addicts.
“They have to get their fix somehow and where else are they going to get money from other than break ins.
“We are continually working to get drugs down, the police had quite a successful operation recently to get drug dealers off the street.”
Council leader Coun Gordon Birtwistle said: “Of course this worries me, it has to be a concern for everybody.
“The fact that a lot of people are being put out of work could be a reason, generally when unemployment goes up crime goes up.”
Glyn Morgan, Victim Support’s regional manager for the North West, said: “Being burgled is a horrible experience for most people, not only because of the theft involved, and the loss of personal items, but the sense of invasion of what should be a safe, private space.”
The figures also revealed the town ranked eighth in England and Wales for criminal damage, with 2,668 crimes, and 17th for all crime, with 11,653 offences committed.
>> YOUR VIEWS ON BREAK-IN FIGURES
PETE ROSE, 46, a care worker, of Burnley Wood, said: “We live in one of the roughest areas but, apart from having a motorbike nicked, we’ve never been burgled. A lot of people are unemployed and on benefits.”
KATIE DELANEY, 24, a sales assistant, of Ightenhill, said: “There are not enough jobs in town, which is why it is so bad. I think it is definitely worse in certain areas though.”
LUAN SCHOFIELD-COLE, 36, a housewife, of Harle Syke, said: “I’ve never been affected myself, but it is worrying. If burglars want to get into a house, then they almost certainly will.”
SONNY RUSHTON, 19, a British Heart Foundation volunteer, of Rossendale Road, said: “It’s mostly the unemployed. The other night we were being eyed up by a suspicious-looking group. It can be scary.”
GEMMA MASSON, 18, a postwoman, of Liverpool Road, said: “It doesn’t come as a surprise and it’s a very big problem. A lot of it is down to the drug addicts and homeless people.”
DAVE SCHOFIELD, 61, a travel agent, of Harle Syke, said: “We’ve not really suffered as we live in quite a decent area. It’s concentrated in certain areas. I think drug addicts are a big part of the problem.”
RENEE RUTH, 76, retired, of Coal Clough Lane, said: “I wouldn’t feel safe if I lived on my own now. It comes as no surprise the figures are so high. It is very concerning for people in Burnley.”