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Crime rate soars by up to 14% in the Midlands

By Rob Golledge | Crime | Published:

Crime in the West Midlands and Staffordshire has surged by record levels in the last year, new figures released today show.

The West Midlands matched the national trend with recorded crime up 11 per cent – the biggest in the last 10 years.

While crime in Staffordshire increased by 14 per cent between April last year and March this year.

In the West Midlands robberies went up by 20 per cent, knife crime increased by 17 per cent, violence was up by 13 per cent, and burglary by 11 per cent.

Thugs carrying offensive weapons went up 24 per cent but record drug cases went down by 17 per cent.

In Staffordshire, knife crime increased by a staggering 32 per cent, sex offences increased by 22 per cent, violence went up by 17 per cent and there was a 24 per cent increase in people carrying weapons.

Rising levels of violence and theft are behind the increases, the Office of National Statistics said.

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Nationally, both knife and gun crime rose by more than a fifth on the previous year, with 5,800 more offences involving a knife or sharp instrument recorded by police, and an increase of 1,200 crimes involving a firearm.

The use of handguns in firearms offences has risen 24 per cent, the ONS said.

There have been big rises in knife crime

John Flatley, head of crime statistics for the ONS, said: "The latest figures show the largest annual rise in crimes recorded by the police in a decade.

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"While ongoing improvements to recording practices are driving this volume rise, we believe actual increases in crime are also a factor in a number of categories."

Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, David Jamieson, said: “The rise in crime in the West Midlands and across the country is a major concern. These figures are further evidence the government needs to change course on police funding.

“Officers at the force work around the clock to prevent and catch those who decide to commit crimes and they are facing ever greater demands from an increasing threat of terror, levels of cyber-crime and a rise in the number of reported sex offences.

“The West Midlands Police has lost £145 million from central government since 2010. Despite being rated as outstandingly efficient by the Independent Inspectors the fact we have 2,000 fewer officers fighting crime is starting to take its toll.

PCC David Jamieson

“Despite the challenges faced, we are determined to get on with the job of keeping people in the West Midlands safe.”

In a different measure also released today, there were an estimated 11 million offences of crime covered by the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW), including new experimental figures of fraud and cyber crimes.

The ONS said this showed an overall seven per cent reduction in offences recorded by the CSEW, when fraud and cyber crimes were excluded – falling from 6.3m to 5.9m.

West Midlands Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe, said: “Crime has increased across the country in the last few years, not just in the West Midlands, having fallen to record lows in 2012 – but crime rates are still significantly lower than a decade ago.

“Total crime per head of population is lower here than in other metropolitan areas like Greater Manchester, Merseyside and West Yorkshire.

“That said, we’ve seen a spate of knife offences in recent weeks, including several fatal stabbings. Like everyone else, I have been shocked by these incidents. This is not ‘normal’ in the West Midlands and it’s understandably worrying for the public whenever we experience incidents like this.

“But it’s important to stress these are separate events - often where victims know the suspected killers - and are not linked to wider criminality.

“Education is key to tackling knife crime and the PCC’s “Precious Lives" project has now reached in excess of 100,000 pupils across the West Midlands. It’s a powerful, compelling presentation aimed at steering youngsters away from knife crime and deglamourizing gang culture.

“We are determined to apprehend the people who cause the most harm in our communities and last week we arrested 100 wanted people as part of an All Out Day in a coordinated offensive against criminals; more than a quarter of whom are now in prison on remand.

“And we’re actively targeting gangs in the West Midlands. We will soon be releasing details of Gang Injunctions we’ve secured alongside Birmingham City Council on almost 20 gang members which will severely disrupt their activity by banning them from associating with each other and from entering large parts of Birmingham. This is a landmark case and shows our determination to come down hard on people who threaten our communities."

Nick Baker, Deputy Chief Constable at Staffordshire Police said: "In Staffordshire there has been a rise in recorded crime and this reflects the picture in other Forces across England and Wales, reported by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

"A lot of this rise in crime is due to new crime categories established nationally.

“Here, we have seen a reported increase in violent crime due to changes in the way we record and define crimes. Much of this is down to a reported increase in malicious communication, harassment and the number of common assaults.

"Significantly, we continue to see an increase in the reporting of historic rape cases. We know both men and women, who have been victims of these horrific offences have more confidence in reporting these crimes to us.

“Following national high profile investigations we are seeing less of a culture of silence around reporting sexual offences. There is a self-referral process and we have dedicated accredited investigators who will support victims throughout the process.

“As a force we continue to focus on crime prevention through better intelligence, working with our partners and taking robust action.

“We are committed to making the communities of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent safer a safer place to live, work and visit and as a result have seen many significant prosecutions resulting in an organised crime gang being sentenced to a total of more than 50 years for jewellery raids across the country; and groups of men sentenced for heroin and cocaine dealing in the Stoke-on-Trent and Cannock areas in recent weeks.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, David Jamieson, said: “The rise in crime in the West Midlands and across the country is a major concern. These figures are further evidence the government needs to change course on police funding.

“Officers at the force work around the clock to prevent and catch those who decide to commit crimes and they are facing ever greater demands from an increasing threat of terror, levels of cyber-crime and a rise in the number of reported sex offences.

“The West Midlands Police has lost £145 million from central government since 2010. Despite being rated as outstandingly efficient by the Independent Inspectors the fact we have 2000 fewer officers fighting crime is starting to take its toll.

“Despite the challenges faced, we are determined to get on with the job of keeping people in the West Midlands safe.”

Staffordshire Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis said: “For the first time since I have taken office I am saying we are facing a more difficult situation financially because of the increasing complexity of crime and increase terror threat. We are spending money better but crime in the last three years has changed beyond all belief. The Government needs to recognise we have gone as far as we can.

“I have made a formal proposition that the Government should lift the cap at which commissioners can increase local tax rates. I know better what Staffordshire needs than Whitehall does.

“The increase in knife crime concerns me most – I need to understand if this is because the police are catching and charging more people and why particularly young people are carrying knives more regularly."

Rachel Almeida, Victim Support's head of policy, said: "This is a great cause for concern especially given the increase in recorded violent crimes, threatening behaviour and theft.

"These types of crime in particular can cause deep emotional, physical and psychological effects on victims.

"We must ensure that victims have the support and help they deserve to enable them to move beyond their ordeal and begin to rebuild their lives."

Rob Golledge

By Rob Golledge
@golledge_star

Part of the Express & Star special projects team responsible for investigations and major stories from politics to counter terrorism

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