THAMES Valley Police have abandoned early-stage investigations into almost 300,000 crimes in the last four years.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Liberal Democrats revealed the force, which covers Oxfordshire, is dropping investigations into violent and non-violent crimes because of a lack of evidence.

Sexual offences, robbery, blackmail and arson are among those that have been dismissed at an early stage.

The practice of screening out crimes, in which a force marks a case as requiring ‘no further action’ is growing.

The data reveals that in 2016 only 34,359 of reported crimes were investigated, with 100,879 being screened out, whereas in 2015 32,670 crimes were investigated, with 95,182 being dismissed.

Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the police were screening out crimes because someone deemed them ‘too hard or impossible’ to solve.

He added: “Behind this colossal figure are victims who haven’t received justice.

“This is unacceptable.

“What shocked me was the amount of sex offences and even some weapons offences that had been screened out.

“I hope that Thames Valley Police look at these cases again with some urgency.”

In a further breakdown of the figures, the FOI shows that in 2014, 2015 and 2016 more than 2,000 sexual offences crimes were screened out.

More than 57,000 theft offences in 2016 were also dismissed as were 20,355 violent crimes against a person.

Mr Farron added: “The police are doing a good job but these figures show starkly that choices are being made.

“The thin blue line is getting even thinner due to Tory cuts to policing budgets.

“Visible policing has all but disappeared apart from our town centres, leaving many communities throughout Oxfordshire feeling unsafe.

“This has to change.”

Currently for 2017 out of 22,552 reported crimes, 9,659 have been screened out.

Thames Valley Police has been contacted for comment.