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Rise in violent crime pushes recorded offences past five million mark

The number of violence against the person crimes logged by police went up by a fifth.

A surge in violent crime has helped push the number of offences recorded by police past the five million mark for the first time in a decade, official figures reveal.

Forces in England and Wales registered a total of 5.2 million offences in the year to the end of June – a 13% rise on the previous 12 months.

This included 1.2 million “violence against the person” crimes – a broad category including murder, assault, harassment and stalking – which was up by a fifth (19%).

Year-on-year increases in overall police-recorded offences are tracking upwards – with the latest rise of 13% comparing to 7% and 5% in the previous two equivalent 12-month periods.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data also showed increases in knife-related crimes, theft, burglary, fraud and sex offences.

John Flatley, head of crime statistics at the ONS, said: “Today’s figures suggest that the police are dealing with a growing volume of crime.

“While improvements made by police forces in recording crime are still a factor in the increase, we judge that there have been genuine increases in crime – particularly in some of the low incidence but more harmful categories.”

(PA Graphics)

The separate Crime Survey for England and Wales gave an estimated total of 10.8 million incidents of crime in the 12 months from July 2016.

This includes experimental data on fraud and computer misuse offences, and annual comparisons will not be available until January.

Mr Flatley said recent increases in recorded crime need to be seen in the context of an overall decline indicated by the survey, saying it remains the “best guide” to long-term trends as experienced by the population in general.

The rise in violence against the person offences dealt with by police was driven largely by increases in the violence without injury (21%) and stalking and harassment (36%) sub-categories.

But there was also a 10% rise in the violence with injury bracket, which was mainly down to a jump in assaults.

(PA Graphics)

When cases related to the Hillsborough disaster and recent terror attacks are excluded, the number of recorded homicides went up by 46 in the latest year.

There was also a “substantial increase”, of 59%, in the number of attempted murder offences registered, which was largely due to terror-related cases.

According to the separate crime survey, there was no significant change in the estimated number of incidents of violence experienced by adults aged 16 or over.

The statistics also revealed that in the year to June:

:: Police recorded 36,998 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument – a rise of 26% and the highest number since comparable data records started seven years ago;

:: The Metropolitan Police had the sharpest jump in this category, accounting for nearly half of the increase across England and Wales;

:: Sex crimes recorded by police were up by 19% year on year to just under 130,000, including a 22% increase in rape offences;

:: Police recorded that theft increased by 11%, including rises in burglary and vehicle-related theft offences.

The findings sparked fresh criticism of the Government over police resources, with Labour claiming cuts have “left our communities exposed”, while the Liberal Democrats described increases in violent crime as “frightening”.

Home Office minister Sarah Newton said crimes traditionally measured by the survey are down by almost 40% since 2010, and by 70% since their peak in 1995.

She welcomed improvements in police recording and said it was good that more victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence feel empowered to come forward.

“But while it is clear that much of the rise in police recorded violent offences is due to better recording, we know that some of this increase is likely to be genuine,” Ms Newton added.

She said the Government is taking “urgent action” to stop these crimes and keep communities safe, pointing to measures aiming to tackle acid attacks and knife offences, domestic abuse and cyber crime.

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