Crime statistics: Violent crime and sex offences rising, police figures suggest

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Media caption,
Special correspondent Ed Thomas has witnessed the reality of knife crime

The number of violent crimes and sex offences recorded by police in England and Wales has risen sharply over the past year, figures suggest.

Knife crime and robbery also increased in the 12 months to September 2017 compared with the previous year, the Office for National Statistics said.

About 5.3 million crimes were recorded in all in that 12-month period, up 14%.

However, the separate Crime Survey, based on people's experiences, suggests crime continues to fall.

This survey, based on interviews with 35,000 households in England and Wales, includes crimes that people do not report to police.

The latest police figures for the 12 months to September from 44 forces show:

  • 68,968 robbery offences, up 29%
  • 138,045 sex offences, up 23%
  • 37,443 knife crime offences, up 21%
  • 1,291,405 violent crime offences, up 20%

There were 37,443 knife crimes and 6,694 gun crime offences recorded in the year to September.

The number of offences involving a knife or a sharp instrument had been falling since 2011 but started rising again over the past three years, the ONS said.

This contrasts with the Crime Survey which found that most crimes either fell or were at a similar level.

However the ONS says higher-harm violent offences, such as knife crime occur in relatively low volumes, and also tend to be concentrated in cities and are therefore not "well-measured" by the Crime Survey.

Excluding the Hillsborough stadium deaths and last year's terror attacks from the data, 57 more people were killed or murdered than the previous year - the highest total since 2008-9.

The 96 cases of manslaughter from Hillsborough stadium in 1989 were only included in crime figures in 2016, after an inquest ruled that the football fans had been unlawfully killed.


By BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw

Although there's likely to be a dispute about the accuracy of the police crime figures because they hinge, to some extent, on the way forces log offences, how pro-active they are and the willingness of victims to come forward, they clearly demonstrate a rapidly rising caseload.

For example, recorded sexual offences and violent crimes have more than doubled in three years.

At the same time, the number of police officers has continued to fall: in the 12 months to last September, down 930 to 121,929.

The Home Office says that's the lowest figure since comparable records began in 1996.

That combination - rising crime, declining police numbers - is creating enormous strain for forces.

But it's unclear whether the smaller police workforce is contributing to the growth in violent crime, particularly what the ONS says are the "genuine" increases in knife crime and firearm offences.

Media caption,
Knife crime was up by 26% year-on-year - an increasing number of teenagers in London are being injured by knives

There were also increases in vehicle-related theft offences, which were up 18% to 443,577, and burglary, which rose by 8% to 433,110, police data showed.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the figures were "truly shocking" and should "put an end to government complacency on crime".

"The Tories are failing in a basic duty to protect the public," she added.

'Smoke and mirrors'

The Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, David Jamieson, said his force had lost more than 2,000 uniformed officers since 2010 and his budget had been cut by 25%.

"Any sensible person can see if you take away a quarter of the budget, you can't carry on protecting the public in the same way," he told BBC News.

He anticipates having to lose a further 150 officers this year.

Police Federation of England and Wales General Secretary Andy Fittes said: "The reality is there are around 21,000 fewer officers than there were in 2010 and they are having to deal with an ever-increasing number of crimes."

"To say crime has fallen is smoke and mirrors," he added.

He added that police officers have "numerous other roles" not covered in today's statistics - such as counter-terrorism, sex offender management, policing football matches and missing person searches.

'Redouble efforts'

A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said: "The independent Office for National Statistics is clear that overall, traditional crime is continuing to fall.

"It is now down by almost 40% since 2010."

Policing Minister Nick Hurd also said crime had fallen but added the government was "very concerned" about the "uptick in the most serious violent crime".

He said the government would "redouble efforts" to bear down on the increased through legislation and tougher police enforcement.

And also to try to steer young people away from "a culture of violence".