Hundreds of fingerprints are waiting to be analysed by experts because of "deeply concerning" forensic delays. Figures show more than 830 fingerprint cases were waiting to be analysed by South West Forensic Services in May.
Examination of some digital material was being delayed by up to 12 months, according to the Police Federation. South West Forensics said it was urgently recruiting staff to "cope with demand" and it was "committed to safeguarding victims of crime".
In Cornwall, a multiple-burglary victim has been paying £400 per week for an overnight security guard to protect his shop because he has no confidence in the police catching the culprit.
Three months since the latest burglary, Thana Singam, from Hatt Service Station, said he was still waiting to hear whether the police had found a fingerprint match. He said the cost of stock taken and repairs of damage caused had totalled more than £20,000 across the three burglaries.