Wiltshire Police's commitment to knife crime and cybercrime highlighted by latest ONS figures

Angus Macpherson

Wiltshire Police's commitment to tackling knife crime and cybercrime has been recognised in the latest crime figures released by the ONS.

Today saw the publication of the Office of National Statistics' quarterly report, looking at crime across England and Wales for the year ending September 2019.

Some of the key stats include:

- Possession of weapons offences has increased by 26 per cent (compared to a national increase of 12 per cent).
- Wiltshire's knife crime volume is the 14th lowest in the country.
- The number of cybercrime incidents reported and recorded has increased by 26.4 per cent.
- Vehicle crime is down 17 per cent (compared to a national increase of four per cent). This is the second biggest reduction in the country.
- Burglary is down 17 per cent, the third biggest reduction in the country.
- Wiltshire is bucking the national trend and seeing an increase in our crime detection rate.
- It is also one of the safest counties in England and Wales, ranked fourth lowest for overall crime and sexual offences, and fifth lowest for burglary and violence.

The increase in possession of weapons offences is a particularly positive result for Wiltshire Police, as this is an area the Force has been focusing on, with a number of proactive operations targeting the prevention of knife crime by removing weapons from our streets.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson has welcomed the ONS report.

He said: "We know that nationally and locally there is a concern about knife crime and I hope these figures show the public that our proactive work is paying off.

"We have been focusing on crime prevention work and targeted police operations, trying to ensure that weapons and knives are removed before criminals have a chance to use them.

"This increase in cybercrime is also of interest to me and shows the importance of the work our dedicated Digital Intelligence and Investigation Unit (DIIU) are doing.

"We have been ahead of the curve in investing in this area of work and we know this is something which will continue to put ever increasing demands on policing."

He added: "I have previously voiced my concerns around positive outcomes and detection rates, and I know there has been work put in place to try to improve this.

"Therefore I am pleased to see that the Force now has a positive outcome rate of 16.5 per cent, which is in an increase year-on-year and goes against the national trend.

"However, I do want to see more done to improve the detection rates for vehicle offences and burglary."

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Cooper, Wiltshire Police's lead for crime, justice and vulnerability, said he was pleased the statistics showed that Wiltshire was focusing on the right areas.

He said: "As this week's Operation Samphire and Project Optimise focus on County Lines and organised crime shows, we have been running a series of proactive operations which have focused on violent crime and other offending which ties into this area.

"There has been a huge national focus on knife crime and, although the stats clearly show that we don't have the same scale of problems that other parts of the country have, we remain determined in our efforts to crack down on serious violence.

"This work has been paying off and we now see in an increase in the detection and surrendering of knives over the past 12 months, which is reflected in this increase in possession of weapons offences."

He added: "The increase in cybercrime is something predicted to continue, as we see an increasing trend of so many different areas of crime having a cyber-element.

"This includes stalking and harassment and sexual offences, which, in a technology-driven world, are now highly likely to have some kind of cyber angle to them.

"All this means that modern-day policing must continue to keep up with the criminals - we need officers and staff who have the expertise and knowledge to investigate these types of crimes, which is where our DIIU proves to be invaluable. They not only take on their own investigations but can also provide assistance and support to other police departments."