Sex and violent crimes increase as police numbers fall to 12-year low
The number of sexual offences, violent crimes and fraud allegations reported to police rose significantly during the last year, as budget pressures meant the national police workforce dropped to a 12-year low, government figures show today.
It came as victims interviewed for the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) showed offences dropped by 7% on the previous year to 6.8 million, their lowest level since 1981.
Criminal Justice Minister Mike Penning said the figures were evidence that reforms to the police service were working, while campaigners credited victims with seeing a spike in the number of rapes and other sexual offences being reported.
But the body representing rank-and-file officers said the Government needed to work with police to ensure further budget cuts do not put public safety at risk, as Home Office figures showed one-in-seven police jobs have been lost during the last five years - down to a current level of 207,140.
Mr Penning said the figures were evidence that reforms to the police service are working.
He said: "Crime is down by more than a quarter since 2010, according to the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales. Today's figures show it is continuing to fall with a 7% year on year fall. This is good news for a safer England and Wales.
"Public perceptions of crime are improving both nationally and locally, fewer people are worried about burglary and more people believe the Criminal Justice System is effective."
He said the statistics also demonstrated how forces had begun making improvements in the way it recorded crime, following a root-and-branch examination in 2013.
He said: "In addition, more victims of sexual offences and domestic abuse are coming forward - this is something we welcome.
"We are also providing much greater transparency on what happens to crimes once they have been reported to the police."
According to the figures, s exual offences recorded by the police rose by 37%, with the numbers of rapes (29,265) and other sexual offences (58,954) being at the highest level since the introduction of the national crime recording standard 12 years ago.
It meant r ape offences have risen by more than 100% in the past decade.
The results of the CSEW investigation, released by the Office for National Statistics, show there were decreases in theft from a person (down 21%) and other theft of personal property (down 22%).
The ONS said the 3% increase in police recorded crime was driven by increases in violence against the person offences (up by 23% compared with the previous year).
However, this increase is thought to reflect changes in recording practices rather than a rise in violent crime.
Chief Constable Jeff Farrar, the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) lead for crime recording, said the crime figures were "encouraging" and praised victims who were "more willing to report crime to the police" than in previous years.
But he also said increases in some crimes were likely due to improved recording practices by officers.
Today's figures come as a Press Association investigation reveals police are dealing with their largest ever volume of revenge porn cases, following public campaigns to raise the profile of the cruel craze. It prompted a change in the law and new prosecution guidelines to get cases to court.
Mark Castle, chief executive of the independent charity Victim Support, said the increase in recorded sexual offences was a result of victims "making the brave decision to speak up and seek justice".
He said: "It's critical that the courage these victims have demonstrated is matched by a commitment from the criminal justice system to treat them with sensitivity, investigate their cases thoroughly and provide high quality support every step of the way."
Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation, sai d more needs to be done "to capture the full picture of crime rates".
He said: "Aside from the worrying rises in certain crime types, these statistics do not take account of all crime nor do they take account of all the other vital work that officers do including counter-terrorism, monitoring sex offenders, child protection, policing football matches and much more.
"More needs to be done to provide forces with proper resources to allow them to serve the public as effectively as possible."