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Revealed: Which crime is on the up in your neighbourhood?

By Alex Ross | Crime | Published:

Crime is on the up across the Black Country – but the types of offences on the rise vary from borough to borough, figures have revealed.

Which crime is on the up in your neighbourhood?

Walsall has seen the biggest jumps in violent crime, burglaries and robbery from 2016 to last year.

And Dudley has had the largest increase in vehicle thefts.

It’s Sandwell which has had the biggest rise in crimes overall between the two periods – up 16.6 per cent.

Wolverhampton had the lowest, 9.5 per cent, and now has the lowest number of crimes, taking Dudley’s place.

But why are there such variances across the Black Country, home to 1.1 million people?

Total recorded time

West Midlands Police Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe said it was studied as part of efforts to fight crime.

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But, she said it was not always clear why some areas are more targeted than thieves than others.

Speaking at a meeting of the Strategic Policing and Crime Panel, she said: “We study it [variances in crimes] very closely.

“It can be due to the nature of the area, for example you look at robbery, we know there is a seasonal issue around the darker nights, but we also know it is more concentrated in our urban and areas of night time economy.

“We lead our targeted operations to address that.

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“Things like theft of motor vehicle we know that thieves will target often the more suburban areas where you might have a higher concentration of higher value vehicles parked on driveways but also we know our shopping centre car parks are targeted as well.

“People are confident of an opportunity to take a vehicle and less likely to be disturbed.”

She added: “We are aware of it from an ability to understand where we might target our disruption, intervention and enforcement activity.

“But also fundamentally, working with our neighbourhood teams, we want to understand the local impact of crime because sometimes certain crimes might have a higher impact on certain communities particularly in residential communities.”

The figures were presented at the meeting to the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson.

​Violent Crime

Violent crime

Attacks on people in Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell have increased more than in any other area in the West Midlands.

It is part of a worrying rise in violent crime recorded by West Midlands Police.

The number of reported incidents has risen from fewer than 3,000 in February 2014 to more than 5,500 in December across the force area.

Serious and common assaults make up around 16 per cent of the offences last year, with both recording ‘significantly higher volumes’ since April, according to a report on reducing crime by Assistant Chief Constable Alex Murray.

One third of the victims were aged under 25.

Incidents of domestic abuse have also increased, up to 11 per cent of the total violent crime according to the report.

Presenting it, Superintendent Ian Parnell referred to a peak in reports across the force from May to July last year.

He said: “The warmer months and the people going out and about in public places does tend to correlate with an increase in violent crime or public-based violence.

“The focus is around young people and a preventative approach.”

Violent crime includes some instances of knife crime, which has become a priority for the police force in the wake of several high profile stabbings this month.

‘Sweeps’ of public areas for knives, knife amnesty bins and education programmes for young people are among the measures being taken.

​Burglary

Burglary

Burglaries are down in Dudley – but up in every other Black Country borough, as well as across the West Midlands.

The crime is an operational priority for the force as it receives 75 reports every day.

The force has defended the rise in record incidents, pointing toward a change in classification from April last year.

Shed and garage break-ins now come under burglaries.

But officers do accept the number of burglaries has gone up with a peak last year in November. January last year also saw an unexpected rise.

There is also concern over a rising number of ‘rush burglaries’.

The burglaries see masked offenders, often armed, overpowering victims in their homes in the search for gold.

Victims are often Oriental or Asian.

Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe said: “Thankfully those [rush burglaries] are in a small number, but each of them has caused us significant concern.

“We have been running an operation to target those offences to ensrue we have our best detectives looking at those.

“We have a trigger plan in place and have also been looking at more sophisticated approach.

“[It is] something we are taking very seriously.”

Across the West Midlands, there are 9.6 offences per 1,000 population.

This, the force says, is below the national average.

Robbery

Robbery

Sandwell had the highest number of robberies in the Black Country– but Walsall saw the biggest percentage increase.

In Wolverhampton, the number hardly changed.

Across the West Midlands, the number of recorded robberies rose by 140 offences per month, and now stands at 589.

In a report on reducing crime which was presented to Police and Crime Commissioner, Assistant Chief Constable Alex Murray said, despite the increase, there was no evidence to suggest of a rise in weapons being used to commit the robberies.

Examples of robberies include the snatching of a mobile phone or purse, by violence or intimidation.

In January two robbers from Walsall – Joshua Bluck, aged 25, and Cameron Ball, aged 17 –were jailed for targeting six vulnerable women in two hours.

Ball ripped the jewellery from their necks while Bluck waited in a getaway car.

One of the victims was a blind 68-year-old.

They were jailed for a combined total of 19 years.

Mark Silvester, crime reduction manager for West Midlands Police, said: “Robbery is a really impactful and personal crime which can leave victims badly affected.”

He added: “If people carry a mobile phone, don’t put it in the back pocket. Don’t have valuables on show and be aware of the surroundings.

“When taking money out a cash points, people should also take care.”

​Theft of motor vehicle

Theft of motor vehicle

Vehicle thefts across the Black Country have rocketed – but nowhere more than in Dudley where it has gone up more than a quarter in a year.

Superintendent Ian Parnell said sophisticated keyless vehicle thefts were making up some of the recorded crimes.

He said: “What we are seeing is criminals getting hold of computer type devices that are able to break in to vehicles using technology.

“It is a more sophisticated criminality which maybe linked to organised crime.

“We are working with industry to limit the availability of equipment.”

West Midlands Police has previously raised awareness of ‘relay crime’ - where car thieves drive off in vehicles without needing to even see the owner’s keys.

They use devices to receive signals from the key in the house, opening the car and starting the ignition.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jameson said he was to meet with the car industry to discuss the issue.

Supt Parnell said the force was also targeting chop shops, which are used to strip valuable parts from stolen cards for order.

The area with the lowest increase, and the lowest number, of vehicle thefts was Wolverhampton.

Despite the increases from last year, the force said there was a low number in December due to the snowfall.

Across the West Midlands, 814 vehicles are stolen every month.

Theft from motor vehicle

Theft from motor vehicle

Walsall has seen the biggest increase in theft from motor vehicles – up almost a fifth.

It takes it to the equivalent of six a day.

Wolverhampton and Dudley also saw significant increases – above the region average.

Superintendent Ian Parnell said it was difficult to catch those responsible because of a ‘limited investigative opportunity’.

He said: “It is normally high valuable items stolen from cars and tools that are stolen from vans so our focus is very much around the prevention aspect.

“I know alot of our local policing teams have been focusing on messaging on not leaving valuable items on display in vehicles.”

West Midlands Police advices vehicle owners to take care where they leave their vehicle.

Valuables such as mobile phones, laptops and handbags should not be left on show, say police.

People are also urged to ensure their vehicle is locked when they leave it as part of the prevention advice.

The force says often people who target vehicles for items are opportunistic theives who spot an item of value they can reach.

Sandwell saw a small rise – the lowest across the West Midlands.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there were almost 358,000 reported instances of thefts from or of a motor vehicle in 2014 up to October last year.

At least 30,000 go uninvestigated, according to the office.

Alex Ross

By Alex Ross
Investigations Editor - @alexross_star

Investigations Editor at the Express & Star. Everyone has a story - tell me yours.

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