Eight out of 10 house burglaries in Dorset are going unsolved as policing reaches 'crisis point'.

Concerns have been raised that that offenders are getting away with serious crimes after Home Office statistics were released.

Of the 2,298 burglary offences recorded in the county in 2017/18, 1,834 – or 80 per cent – were assigned ‘investigation complete – no suspect identified’.

In total, 119 people were brought to court in connection with a burglary matter.

During the same timeframe, 673 reports of theft or unauthorised taking of a vehicle were also recorded. Of these, a suspect was identified in 472 offences, or 70 per cent of the time.

A further 24 per cent of shoplifting offences went unsolved, with police receiving 4,147 reports of the crime and failing to find a suspect in 986 cases.

The figures cover the 12 months to March 2018.

It has prompted warnings that victims could be put off reporting offences, while criminals are given a "green light to reoffend".

Police chiefs say increased demand and reduced officer numbers mean they have to prioritise cases where there is a realistic chance of prosecution.

South Dorset MP Richard Drax has previously made calls for more bobbies on the beat.

Speaking at a Parliamentary debate, he said frontline officers were now more likely to be behind a computer rather than on the streets – to the detriment of communities.

In response to crimes going unsolved, Mr Drax said: "It is still my view that we need more police officers on the beat. Many officers are being taken out to deal with other matters such as high-tech crimes and terrorism and I get that, but we need police on the streets – for reassurance, gather intelligence and as a deterrent.

"I am very concerned about these statistics on unsolved crimes. I don't want to knock Dorset Police as I know they're struggling.

"But if we allow people to get away with it I am concerned that offenders are going on to commit more offences, and possibly to more serious crimes."

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council's community safety briefholder Cllr Mike Byatt said: "Communities need assurance that everything that can be done to prevent crime and bring offenders to justice is being done.

"I intend to raise this issue with the police on behalf of residents.

"It's also important that crimes are properly investigated and justice is done."

West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin said: “Obviously, the police will never be able to track down the perpetrator of every crime.

"But, in general, I think Dorset Police do a good job at enforcing the law with relatively tight resources. I have always found that, when there is serious crime afoot, they are serious about pursuing it.”

Alex Mayes of charity Victim Support said: “News like this could undermine confidence in the criminal justice system and prevent people reporting in the future.”

Detective Inspector Neil Wright, of the Volume and Burglary Crime Team, said: “Dorset Police continues to work hard to investigate volume crime including burglary, theft and shoplifting and we have specialist teams working with partners that actively target burglary suspects, prolific offenders and gangs. 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.

“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 does not identify a suspect or provides enough evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.

“Locally we are working with a number of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and local authorities to ensure a partnership response to tackling acquisitive crime and other incidents and crime such as anti-social behaviour. We have a number of different initiatives currently in place for reporting shoplifting and encourage people to report the theft even if there may not be the opportunity to find those responsible or there is insufficient evidence to support a prosecution.

“We understand the impact crime has on victims and feel it is important to work with them by keeping them regularly updated with assistance of the Victims’ Bureau and officers are able to signpost them to crime prevention advice to help protect them from becoming victims of further crime.

“For more information and crime prevention advice visit www.dorset.police.uk"

A Home Office spokesman said: "We expect the police to take all reports of crime seriously, to investigate and to bring the offenders to court so that they can receive appropriate punishment.

"However we recognise that crime is changing and police demand is becoming increasingly complex. That is why we have provided a strong and comprehensive £13 billion funding settlement to ensure the police have the resources they need to carry out their vital work."

Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman, National Police Chiefs' Council lead for acquisitive crime, said increased demand and fewer officer numbers have led to forces prioritising cases with a realistic prospect of prosecution.

She added: "Police investigate all cases of theft, burglary and shoplifting. Particularly for these types of offences, police focus on targeting prolific offenders, organised crime networks, and ensuring prevention measures by homeowners and businesses are in place."

Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, president of the Police Superintendents’ Association, told delegates at an annual conference this week that the public is being “defrauded” and policing stands on the brink of crisis.

He said: “I cannot emphasise enough that the delivery of routine policing functions should not be dependent on officers effectively giving their time for free by staying past their shift times or working on leave days.

“That exploits police officers and defrauds the public.”

The “great service” is “on the verge of crisis”, Chief Superintendent Thomas said at the conference.