Latest statistics: Crime increase well below national average
Wiltshire's overall recorded crime increase is well below the national average according to crime statistics out today.
Between March 2017 and March 2018, Wiltshire Police recorded 43,603 crimes overall - an increase in 5% compared to the national average of 13% and 8% regionally.
Officers attended 8,211 *priority incidents in the fourth quarter (January - March 2018) and there were a total of 37,159 priority incidents in the 12 months. The Force's response times to those calls were below the target time of an hour with the average arrival time being just over 51 minutes and 95% of all incidents attended within 55 minutes.
Nationally there has been a 30% rise in the volume of recorded robberies; despite analysis it's not clear what the likely cause of the increase is, although improved recording practices and a national increase in crime are factors. In Wiltshire, we have recorded 291 robberies in the 12 months to March 2018; this represents an increase of 67 offences or 30% - however, Wiltshire still has the 11th lowest volume of robberies in the country.
We dealt with 267 crimes involving knives or a sharp instrument - a 3% increase on last year but this compares to a national increase of 16%. Knife crime is taken seriously by Wiltshire Police and a significant amount of work has been carried out into the threat and harm posed to communities by knife crime. The Force has developed a detailed plan, working with partners to tackle knife crime in the county.
Figures to March 2018 show there were a total of 4,082 burglaries in Wiltshire which represents an increase of 1%. This is a stark improvement compared to the previous report which saw a 13.2% increase for year ending January 2018.
A Community Tasking Team (CTT) was set up in August 2017 following a force-wide review into our burglary processes. The CTT is a dedicated resource that not only tackles burglary, but all local priority issues. Its main focus has been improving our response to house burglaries and targeting offenders.
The CTT works closely with existing Community Policing Teams, and with specialist Crime Scene Investigators (CSI), to ensure the biggest possible impact is made on prolific offenders who blight the lives of our local communities.
Statistics also show an increase of 11% in theft from vehicles - a total of 3,769 vehicle offences - an increase of 382 compared to the year before.
Our analysis suggests that the majority of these incidents are from vehicles which are insecure or have valuables on display - often taking place in beauty spots. Officers continue to run a number of crime prevention campaigns urging motorists to lock their vehicles and keep belongings out of sight.
The Force has seen an increase in 999 calls in the past year - nearly 90,000 compared to 77,000 - a 17% increase. This increase reflects the national picture in England and local research shows that this is not a result of people calling 999 instead of 101.
Between January and March this year the length of time it took to answer a 101 call was significantly lower than almost a year ago - 1.29 minutes in quarter four compared to 5 minutes in quarter one (April - June 2017).
This follows significant investment of £250,000 by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon in 2017 to increase staff numbers in the Crime and Communications Centre and improve training.
Angus Macpherson, the county's Police and Crime Commissioner said: "Whilst any increase in crime is concerning, this is a trend reflected across the country and it's reassuring to see that our crime increase is well below the national and regional average.
"Nationally, and in the county, more offences involving a knife, or a sharp instrument, are being recorded but I want to reassure residents that Wiltshire is still a safe place to live and work - the actual number of knife-related crime is still low in comparison to other areas in the UK.
"Wiltshire Police is committed to breaking the culture behind knife crime through a variety of measures - including early intervention, continued engagement with communities and educating young people about the dangers of carrying knives and working alongside other public agencies, schools and charities.
"Burglary is a high impact crime that can be devastating for victims, and it is incredibly encouraging to see that the community tasking teams are starting to have an impact and the courts are sending a clear message to offenders when sentencing.
"I have continuously challenged the Force over the past three years and I'm pleased to see that the way in which they tackle burglary is improving, and it's important that they do not lose this momentum.
"I will continue to hold the Force to account and ensure that the very best service is provided for our local communities. Whilst HMICFRS consistently grade Wiltshire Police as 'good' there are clearly areas that need improvement."
Assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden said: "Whilst our crime increase remains well below the national average we must not be complacent and as a Force we recognise more work needs to be done around reducing vehicle crime with officers running a number of crime prevention campaigns urging motorists to lock their vehicles and keep belongings out of sight.
"Although we see a small increase in knife crime - we recognise any rise is a concern and we take this very seriously. We have been carrying out and continue to carry out lots of preventative work, including interactive sessions with young people as well as providing more training for staff across all agencies on the most effective way to engage with those at greatest risk of carrying knives.
"The burglary rates may appear low, but any rise in burglary is still too much and I want to reassure people that we continue to work at community level to prevent residential burglaries as well as robustly targeting offenders who cause significant issues in our county.
"We recognise that our ability to answer 101 calls in the summer of 2017 was not acceptable - people deserve better and as a result a significant investment was made. This has resulted in a major improvement to our 101 call answering times which in turn help our response times, enabling us to improve our overall service to the people of Wiltshire."
*Priority calls - these are calls regarded as urgent but not an emergency requiring a quick but not immediate response.