‘Shocking’ increase in violence drives rise in recorded crime

Rising knife and gun offences have fuelled a 14 per cent increase in police recorded crime.

Jan 25, 2018

Rising knife and gun offences have fuelled a 14 per cent increase in police recorded crime. High-volume crime remained at a similar level to 2015/16 in the 12 months to September but the number of violent offences has rocketed, latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal. Recorded knife crime rose by more than a fifth while gun crime increased by 20 per cent – with most offences clustered in London and other major cities. Overall recorded crime is up 14 per cent on the previous year – reaching 5.3 million – and officials recognised at least part of the change is due to a genuine increase. However, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), typically seen as the most accurate indicator of crime rates and involves interviews with the public, shows total offending is down ten per cent. The figures come as new Home Office statistics showed the number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen to the lowest level since comparable records began. Home Secretary Amber Rudd welcomed the apparent decline in crime shown by the CSEW and said some of the changes to recording crime can be explained by better recording practices. The Police Federation of England and Wales claimed this explanation masked the true trends with “smoke and mirrors”. General Secretary Andy Fittes said: “Frontline officers are under increasing pressure and dealing with larger caseloads than ever before. This worrying rise in crime will only add to this pressure. “The reality is there are around 21,000 fewer officers than there were in 2010 and they are having to deal with an ever-increasing number of crimes. This is on top of the numerous other roles they undertake as they serve the public.” He added: “The Government will no doubt jump on the headline figures but they need to accept the simple reality that the result of cutting police officers and funding is a rise in crime.” Forces in England and Wales recorded 6,694 gun crimes and 37,443 knife offences in 2016/17, a large number of which were dealt with by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). The MPS accounted for 38 per cent of the increase in offences involving knives and sharp instruments, although 37 other forces also experienced a rise. Robbery offences underwent one of the largest year-on-year increases, rising 29 per cent from 53,263 to 68,968, while sex offences are up by 23 per cent. Police recorded homicides were down one per cent, but 2016’s figures included the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster as the inquests in April re-classed their deaths as unlawful killings. Excluding these victims and those of terror attacks means the number of killings last year rose by 57 to 650. Certain lower-harm offences also increased, with domestic burglary rising by 32 per cent while the number of overall burglaries is up eight per cent. Vehicle offences also rose 18 per cent while theft from vehicles increased by 22 per cent. The ONS said these could represent genuine increases rather than improved recording. The CSEW once again showed a different trend. Based on experiences of interviewees, there was no change in the number of violent offences committed last year compared with 2015/16. Criminal damage and most types of theft also saw no statistically significant change, and eight out of ten respondents said they had not experienced any kind of crime over the 12-month period. Later this year, the Government will publish a new serious violence strategy focusing on early intervention and deterrence. The plan will coincide with new laws designed to address use of knives, acid and firearms, with more police powers and tougher sanctions for offenders. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “So far we have seen that crimes measured by the survey – the best measure of crime as it reflects the public’s experience of crime – has fallen since 2010, but we have also seen a rise in police recorded crime over the past few years. “The Office for National Statistics is clear that much of it can be explained by significant

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