POLICE in South Yorkshire solved one fifth of the county’s crimes last year by getting to criminals to confess to all their offences.
The force had the highest number of offences wiped off its books through criminals asking for offences to be ‘taken into consideration’ - with 19 per cent of all detected crimes solved that way.
Figures disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that offenders across England, Wales and Northern Ireland asked for a total of almost 69,000 crimes to be ‘taken into consideration” last year.
Defendants in court accused or convicted of an offence gain credit for owning up to other crimes in order to wipe the slate clean and avoid prosecution for them later on.
The practice boosts police force detection rates, on which their performance is measured.
One suspect in South Yorkshire had 301 offences ‘taken into consideration’ - mainly burglaries, car thefts and frauds.
A total of 68,976 crimes were recorded as ‘taken into consideration’ last year - almost six per cent of all crimes cleared up by police.
South Yorkshire had the highest TIC rate, while the lowest levels were in Gwent and the Police Service of Northern Ireland at 0.5 per cent.
But some lawyers fear the system could lead to police urging suspects to confess to crimes they have not committed.
Detective Superintendent Richard Fewkes, of South Yorkshire Police, said the force used the practice because it reassured victims that offenders were brought to justice for their crimes.
He said safeguards were in place to ensure that the system was not abused simply to obtain better detection rates.
“South Yorkshire Police have for many years operated a robust policy around offences taken into consideration which affords suspects, when arrested, the opportunity to admit responsibility for all their offending,” he said.
“The process is very carefully managed in partnership with the Crown Prosecution Service and only those offences that would ordinarily meet the evidential standard for charging can be taken into consideration. In other words this cannot be a short-cut to improving performance.
He added: “The standard of investigation still needs to be high.”