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BIG rise in violent crimes in Devon and Cornwall

BIG rise in violent crimes in Devon and Cornwall

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 9:35am 22nd October 2019. (Updated at 10:08am 22nd October 2019)

Crime has fallen over the last year in Cornwall, despite warnings of an "epidemic sweeping the nation".

However, the number of violent offences recorded by police in the Duchy and Devon rose to over 11,200.

The number of incidents involving the possession of weapons, like firearms or knives, was up 2%.

However the Office for National Statistics report for the 12 months to June this year shows that Devon and Cornwall is the fifth safest of 43 force areas.

What do the figures show?

police officer


Devon and Cornwall recorded 28,756 offences in Cornwall in the 12 months to June, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That was a decrease of 2% compared to the previous year, when there were 29,434.

At 51 crimes per 1,000 people, that's far lower than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 89.

Crimes recorded in Cornwall included:

  • 1,237 sexual offences, a decrease of 1%
  • 11,231 violent offences, a rise of 6%
  • 4,456 incidents of criminal damage and arson, down 1%
  • 957 drug offences, up 4%
  • 236 possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, up 2%
  • 1,700 public order offences, down 9%
  • 6,451 theft offences, down 31%

Overall, police recorded 7% more crime across England and Wales - there were more than 6 million offences in the 12 months to June.

The biggest hike was in stalking and harassment , which jumped by 37% to 459,000.

However, the ONS said improvements to reporting and recording practices by police could be behind the increase.

The Police Federation said officers across England and Wales were struggling to "deliver the basics", warning the benefits of promised new recruits would not be felt for some time.

"These figures once again come as no surprise as officers continue to struggle to deal with delivering the basics in policing which is incredibly frustrating for them.

"With forces snowed under by demand, unable to answer all 999 calls in some cases, chiefs are having to make some difficult decisions over which services need to be reined back".

John Apter, Police Federation of England and Wales

police 5


There was also a 7% increase in incidents involving knives or sharp incidents across England and Wales.

The National Police Chiefs' Council lead for crime, Chief Constable Andy Cooke, said while the rise was concerning, use of targeted stop and search and other measures had helped reduce the rate of increase.

"In the past few years cuts to policing have meant we've become more reactive to crime. 

"With the recruitment of additional officers we will have more people on the beat and more people investigating and preventing crime.

"I am also concerned by increases in other offences, and that too few crimes are being solved and brought to court for justice to be done.

"This is a symptom of the strain on policing as we try to manage growing crime and demand that is ever more complex".

Chief Constable Andy Cooke, National Police Chiefs' Council

crime handcuffs


Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez said work to combat organised drug supply was reflected in the figures. 

"Organised drug supply, including through so called 'county line' networks, remains one of the most significant risks we face in our communities.

"Drug dealers coming from metropolitan areas bring with them weapons and violence and exploit vulnerable people to help them distribute drugs.  

"Devon and Cornwall Police is taking large scale action to combat this – we have invested over £5.5 million pounds in the last three years into new proactive policing teams and in dedicated operations to target specific county lines or organised crime groups.  

"The ongoing increases we are seeing in the number of crimes recorded for drug offences (up 13%) and the possession of weapons (up 15%) are a reflection of that concerted effort, although I recognise there remains more to be done".

However, PCC Hernandez expressed concern at the 32% rise in robbery. 

"While these increases are on relatively low base numbers, and should be seen in the context of our area being for one of the safest parts of the country, I am concerned about the continued rise in robberies and I am in discussion with the Chief Constable to better understand the issues we face and the response being taken.

"While I am pleased to see reductions in many areas of recorded crime, we cannot and will not be complacent.  

"Crime levels remain a concern to me and to our communities and we must continue to do all we can to improve our response to all types of crime.  

"Recruitment of more officers is part of the solution so I am delighted that, in addition to a planned uplift in force strength, we will have an additional 141 officers added to the force through the first year of the national uplift".

She said that further support was needed from the Government to recognise "exceptional challenges" in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly due to tourism levels, rurality and isolation as a peninsula.

"Despite our chocolate box image we are not immune from drug dealing and organised crime that has taken hold in the country at large".

Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez

The Devon and Cornwall force has more visitors to its area each year than any other outside London.  Last month the PCC submitted a bid to the Home Office for £17.9m to recognise these extreme pressures.   

You can check the full figures for Devon and Cornwall and the UK here.

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