Commissioner ‘disappointed’ as huge spike in violence and sexual offences sees recorded crime rise 16% across Kent
PUBLISHED: 09:11 21 July 2017 | UPDATED: 09:11 21 July 2017
The number of sexual offences logged by the force rose by almost a third
Kent’s police and crime commissioner admits he is “disappointed” after figures released this week showed the number of sexual offences recorded by the force rose by almost a third last year.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows the force received 4,090 reports of sexual offences between April 2016 and March 27, up from 3,114 in the 12 months before - a rise of 31 per cent.
Figures also demonstrated a huge rise in the number of violent crimes reported and a 17 per cent spike in reported robberies, though the number of burglaries and drug offences logged was down on 2015/16.
Across the county, total recorded crime was up by 16 per cent, with 131,575 offences recorded in 2016/17, compared to 113,472 the previous year.
PCC Matthew Scott said: “The increase in police recorded crime here in Kent will obviously cause concern among the public - I’m naturally quite disappointed myself - but we’ve been seeing these trends for several months and both Kent Police and I have been working hard to ensure all victims are getting the support they deserve.
“I’ve invested in schemes and campaigns to encourage victims, particularly victims of domestic abuse and hate crime, to seek help.
“Where those victims come forward, Kent Police will rightly record their incidents as crimes even if the incidents were non-recent. That partly explains the recorded rise in violent crimes.
“I have also been investing in projects aimed at making people safer and reducing reoffending, including a series of talks in schools aimed at preventing gang violence and knife crime.
“The fact that other crimes, like burglary, are down is good to see. But I am not complacent.
“It’s my responsibility to hold Kent Police to account and I will continue to do that on behalf of the residents of Kent.”
Last month, a damning report by HMIC Criminal Justice Inspectorates found the force failed to record thousands of serious crimes.
Chief constable Alan Pughsley said they have been “thoroughly reviewed” and that safeguarding had been put in place.
Responding to this week’s figures, Kent Police’s assistant chief constable, Tony Blaker said: “The 30 per cent increase in violence against the person means an additional 10,336 crimes recorded and while any increase in crime is concerning, it is important to put this rise into context.
“In real terms, we have seen a 5-10 per cent increase in the volume of incidents reported to us, and with the strict application of Home Office recording rules, this results in a 30 per cent increase in crimes we are recording. Many single incidents can now result in multiple crimes being recorded.
“For example, a person may approach another person who has three children with them. They may swear at the adult. This would result in four public order offences, one of swearing at the other adult, and three of swearing in front of the children.
“The largest increases in violent crime are in categories which involve no injury, such as common assault and public order offences. Whilst we take these matters seriously, it is important to put these latest figures into context.
“Sexual offences have also increased by 31 per cent - an additional 976 crimes recorded over the year – with high profile stories in the media raising awareness of rape and sexual offences, and improving people’s understanding of what constitutes an offence.
“This has increased victims’ confidence in reporting sexual offences including non-recent incidents and this is reflected in the figures for Kent and nationally.
“We take reports of all crime seriously and it is really important for people to report domestic abuse, serious violence and sexual offences.
“We work closely with partners to ensure victims receive the support they need, and put safeguarding in place to protect the vulnerable.
“Domestic abuse, serious violence and sexual offences are amongst Kent Police’s priorities to record and investigate.
“We continue to encourage victims of these crimes to report them to us, whether current or non-recent offences.
“We will ensure victims receive support and safeguarding - our focus is and always has been to deliver a first class service to victims and witnesses of all crime, and to ensure we protect the most vulnerable in our society.”