WILTSHIRE is one of a few police forces nationwide where the number of overall reported crimes has fallen, according to crime statistics out today.
For the period March 2018 to March 2019, burglaries and vehicle crime dropped by 23 per cent and 28 per cent respectively. With vehicle crime, that's more than a thousand fewer cars, vans and trucks being broken into.
Angus Macpherson, Wiltshire and Swindon’s Police and Crime Commissioner, welcomed the latest figures, which are bucking the national trend.
He said the day-to-day crimes which people often experience are being dealt with effectively by a comparatively small, rural force where the staff and officers work hard to deliver the best service possible within the funding given. He said: “As we know, Wiltshire is a safe county and I am pleased to see these latest figures highlight the on-going work being done by this Force to continually prevent crime and protect our communities. “Our improved recording practices, which Wiltshire Police has been focusing on 18 months ahead of most other forces, has helped with the accuracy of these figures.
"In the last set of ONS statistics, burglary and vehicle crime had dropped and it is heartening to see that this continues - a result of me challenging the Chief Constable and his team on the improvement on burglary and vehicle crime numbers. “This type of scrutiny from me and my office is crucial to ensure Wiltshire Police continues to deliver for the communities it serves.”
Crimes involving a knife were stable for Wiltshire year on year compared to a national increase of eight per cent for this quarter.
However, recorded robbery increased by 7 per cent in 2019 compared to the 2018 figure (that's an increase of 21 incidents), alongside a 42 per cent increase in stalking and harassment. The robbery figure is still lower than the national average of 11 per cent.
He added: "I am pleased to see the strong preventative work carried out by the teams involved in the knife crime awareness Op Sceptre campaign and the on-going proactive work around County Lines is making a difference to our knife crime stats. "The increase in robbery and stalking and harassment is concerning for me but I am aware that a rise in the latter is primarily due to the way stalking and harassment is now recorded separately to other crimes. "This reflects how seriously it's being taken by the police; this is the same for robbery - I am aware the work which is being carried out to try and combat this crime with the Force not sitting back on its laurels and tackling a crime which is just awful for the victim."
Superintendent Sarah Robbins said: “Knowing we are one of the few Forces in the country where overall reported crime has dropped is good news but we are never complacent and remain focused when it comes to tackling all crimes and offenders. "In relation to the increase in stalking and harassment offences, the jump comes after a change in the way this type of crime is now recorded separately to other crimes. "We take this very seriously which is reflected by how we follow stringent national guidelines which gives clarity to what this type of abuse is. "Also, our officers are receiving on-going and in-depth training helping them to understand and deal with these cases and the often innocent people who find themselves on the receiving end of what can be a very frightening experience.
"With robberies, it is always concerning to see a rise in an offence which can increase the fear of crime in communities. "However, we need to put some context around this, as a small force with a large rural footprint, robbery offences are generally low which means that when there is a small increase in numbers of recorded crimes, as we have seen here, the percentage increase can appear high - it looks far more alarming than it is and let's not forget it is still lower than the national average. "However, we will never be blase about this and we continue to address this type of crime and its causes.
"Examples include: the on-going preventative work around knife crime and the tackling of organised criminal gangs linked to drug supply and County Lines through the proactive work by our Dedicated Crime Teams."