Increase in violent and sexual offences 'incredibly worrying'
Wiltshire PCC Philip Wilkinson has called the increase in violent and sexual offences over the last year in the county ‘incredibly worrying’ in light of figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The figures released today cover the first full year without ‘stay-at-home’ restrictions since the start of the pandemic and show an increase of more than 13% in violence against the person, in the 12 months leading up to March 2022, an increase of 20% in violent offences without injury and a 21% increase in sexual offences.
Mr Wilkinson said the national figures showed how demand on police forces was increasing across the country. But, he added, now was the time to ensure victims felt able to report crimes and were then treated properly and fairly through the criminal justice system while expecting swift, and relevant, justice for the perpetrator.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson said: “The increases reported in today’s figures are in comparison to the previous year, when many crime rates went through the floor as people were ordered to stay at home during the pandemic, however the increases in those particular crime types are incredibly worrying.
“In Wiltshire we have more victims than ever who need help and support to recover from the crimes against them and the extra national funding secured by my office means that specialist support is available for victims but preventing crime in the first place continues to be my priority and one victim is one victim too many.
“We know there is a major issue around sexual offences, especially those against women and girls and that is why I have invested in Wiltshire Police’s capacity, based on operational advice from the Chief Constable, by allocating more than £750,000 into a specialist team focusing on investigating and preventing violence against women and girls.”
A Safer Nights Charter, which will be launched later this year and is the product of the OPCC working in partnership with local authorities, partner agencies and the Force, will be inclusive of all those who use public spaces at night but will have elements focused on reducing violence against women and girls - including training and designing public spaces for safety.
Mr Wilkinson said: “I want people to feel safer and I want our streets to be safer. The Safer Nights Charter creates collective responsibility from my office, Wiltshire Police and the local authorities to make public spaces safer at night.
“Listening to residents’ concerns influenced my police and crime plan and that identifies violent crime as a key priority for both Wiltshire Police and my office for the next three years. Working together, we will deliver practical measures to reduce offences and make Wiltshire safer.”
Despite the increase in violent and sexual offences, there were some areas where a decrease was recorded by Wiltshire Police:
A 30% decrease in drug offences.
An 8% decrease in miscellaneous crimes against society. Miscellaneous crime is made up of different types of crime including fly tipping, perverting the course of justice and possession of indecent photographs of children for example.
Mr Wilkinson continued: “Simply acknowledging the scale of offending in Wiltshire isn’t good enough, Wiltshire Police are now in the process of a back-to-basics reset, with improved leadership and training, which is necessary to truly stand any chance in preventing these offences from happening in the first place and to ensure quality investigations to achieve the outcomes victims want from their reports.
“These aren’t just numbers, these are people that we know and live with and I continue to work with the Chief Constable to ensure that once a crime or an incident is reported, residents receive a quality, frontline service.”