Latest statistics: Wiltshire crime increase falls below national average
Wiltshire's overall recorded crime increase is half the national average according to crime statistics out today.
Between January 2017 and December 2017, Wiltshire Police recorded 44,043 crimes overall - an increase in 7.9% compared to the national average of 15.3% and 11.1% regionally.
Recorded burglary was up 13.2% on the previous year's figures with 503 more burglaries, making a total of 4,318 break-ins for the year January 2017 to December 2017.
This increase is primarily down to how break-ins are recorded by the Force; since April 2017 the way burglary is recorded has changed nationally and new categories are not directly comparable to the previous ones i.e. shed break-ins are now classed as residential burglaries (home/property break-ins), whereas before they were categorised as non-dwelling (non-home/property break-ins).
Wiltshire Police has also improved how they record crimes with a 95.2% crime recording compliance rate.
Although the dramatic improvement in the quality of crime recording has impacted on the results, tackling burglary continues to be a Force priority and Wiltshire Police has also invested in crime prevention awareness concerning vehicle crime.
Over the past 12 months a burglary improvement plan has been developed which now forms the basis of all burglary investigations. Part of this has involved holding a series of public drop-in sessions across the county to take on board the concerns of people - our communities who are a vital resource in shaping our response to this type of crime. As part of this, burglary detection rates have nearly doubled since April 2017 from 3% to 5.8% and this continues to improve.
The ONS figures show an increase of 24.2% in theft from vehicles (2,064 in
2016 compared to 2,564 in 2017). Our analysis suggests that the majority of these incidents are from vehicles which are insecure or have valuables on display and are often beauty spot thefts.
Officers continue to run a number of crime prevention campaigns urging motorists
to lock their vehicles and keep belongings out of sight.
Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said: "Whilst it is always concerning to see an increase in recorded crime I am confident that our improved recording practices explain some of this increase.
"Although I continue to highlight the increases in crime as being reflective of recording practices, at no point am I, or the Chief Constable becoming complacent.
"The Force has recognised the increase in domestic burglary and vehicle crime, and I am pleased to see the Force is robustly responding to the concerns that I and the wider community have about these crimes.
"I have challenged the Chief Constable and his team frequently and will continue to do so on burglary, as this increase is not acceptable, and while detection rates are increasing more improvements need to be made.
"The Force has had some recent success in securing convictions for prolific burglars and I am reassured that this continues to be a Force priority."
Meanwhile, the number of overall recorded drug offences dropped by 15.2% with 187 fewer offences in 2017 compared to 2016.
The number of recorded rapes has increased by 37%, with 30% of this increase being accounted for by non-recent reports and 70% being reported within 12 months of the incident.
This increase also accounts for multiple reports of crime coming from the same victim.
Angus Macpherson added: "I'm committed to ensuring that victims of crime have the confidence to report crime to Wiltshire Police and receive support from their very first call and throughout the criminal justice process when they do.
"And I will continue to fund a number of victim support services across the county to ensure that this continues to be the case."
The figure reflects that more victims are feeling confident to come forward and report a sexual assault thanks to international awareness campaigns like #MeToo, which went viral in October 2017, and the publicity around high profile historical sex abuse cases.
Detective Superintendent Jeremy Carter said: "We take reports of rape and sexual assault incredibly seriously and we always work hard to provide the appropriate support for victims of these types of crime so they feel able to report the offence and work with police so we can get a successful prosecution.
"We have recently employed a lawyer with expertise in sexual offences to give our staff additional training to ensure they are well equipped to conduct thorough investigations to maximise the opportunities for prosecutions.
"We always encourage people to report these types of crime to us, so they can be investigated thoroughly. Through our Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) we will always signpost additional support for victims through what is often a very traumatic time. Victims can seek help and counselling from the SARC based at the New Swindon Sanctuary - they can be contacted on the 24-hour helpline 0808 168 0024.
"Crimes can be reported to police by calling 101, or 999 in an emergency."
Assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden said: "Our crime increase is lower than the national and regional figures and compared to similar sized Forces we are well below the average crime figures; however we are not complacent and remain focused when it comes to tackling all crime and criminals.
"Our crime recording is consistently high and stable as reflected by our HMICFRS grading. The figures we are seeing are now an accurate picture of crimes in our county and the work we are doing to combat criminal behaviour is reflected in this too.
"As a Force we are constantly changing our processes and are pro-actively putting into practice the recommendations made. A good example of this is the introduction of the Community Tasking Teams (CTT) last year and their on-going work, with burglary continuing to be a Force priority.
"The CTTs have targeted the small number of prolific offenders responsible for most of burglaries in our communities. This has resulted in a high number of arrests, remands in custody, convictions and custodial sentences.
"The CTTs will continue to work relentlessly to improve how we engage with the communities we serve, and ultimately to reduce future offending."