Ms Townsend questioned whether the backlog in the criminal justice system had also diminished the appetite for police and prosecutors to bring minor cases before the courts.
She said: “I appreciate the CPS have to look at whether charges are in the public interest. But it seems absolutely clear to me and colleagues that the public view is that these crimes are exactly the kind of disruptive and dangerous acts the criminal justice system is there to prevent and punish.
“Of course, I recognise the CPS is not without its own challenges. They have had their service cut. They were already trying to do too much with not enough and then Covid came along.
“But the public deserves to see a response from all parts of the criminal justice system, and it is unfair for the police to be blamed if people do not end up before the courts.”
David Lloyd, the police and crime commissioner for Hertfordshire, suggested one answer would be to make the CPS accountable to the local elected crime commissioner.
“I do get frustrated that the public will think that is the police’s fault. I don’t think the CPS are doing a really poor job,” he said.
“I’m sure they are reflecting on what crimes have been committed. And I am sure that Insulate Britain have got a very good lawyer on their books, and they know exactly what CPS are likely to charge on or not, and exactly what is going to be an offence that will have a custodial sentence potentially and what isn’t.
“But if you had someone who had oversight for the whole system, you would be able to push a bit harder and say, ‘Nobody in the South East has been charged with any offence, what is going on?’”