However, overall reported crime between January and December 2017 has increased by approximately 23%, reflecting an overall national increase in recorded crime across England and Wales. Of course, it is hard to know the reality because the figures are statistical and recording methods have changed yet again, but a leap in figures does not mean the area has necessarily become a hot bed of crime.
Deputy Chief Constable David Lewis said: “The Force has actively changed recording practices which is positively impacting upon these figures. We should also reflect on Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) report from earlier this month, which graded us as ‘good’ for our crime recording. An obvious consequence of this improvement is an increase in our recorded levels of crime.
“In addition to improved recording practices in response to Crime Data Integrity since May 2016, all incidents of rape are now being recorded as crimes in the control room at the initial report. This change in recording practice has seen a significant increase in the number of sexual offences the Force is recording which has seen a rise of approximately 43% during the twelve months, compared to the previous year.
“There have been a number of new laws introduced which will see a rise in crime figures for all Forces across the country, not just in Devon and Cornwall. For example, following the introduction of the Malicious Communications Act we now record abusive and threatening behaviour, such as abusive messages on social media, under the heading ‘Violence without injury’, which has led to an increase of nearly 50% in that category. This falls within the overall category of ‘violence against the person’ which shows an increase of approximately 36%.
“It is also prudent to note that crime figures only represent a small part of what we as a Force actually do; around 80% of our business is non-crime related.
“We have one of the highest levels of public confidence of any Force across the country, and this means that people feel supported and confident that we will take their crime seriously.
“The upshot of this confidence from our public is that we will also see a rise in the reporting of certain crime types.
“According to Crime Survey in England and Wales, the perceived risk of becoming a victim of crime (both household and personal) remains low, with Devon and Cornwall being the 3rd lowest in the country for household crime. This reflects that residents feel safe in our area.
“It is also important to note that following a survey on victim satisfaction, 77% of victims were satisfied with the services received from the Force and we have worked hard as a Force to improve our response in a number of key crime areas such as rape, sexual offences, modern slavery and domestic abuse.
“In recent years we have seen a rise in both current and historical reporting in these areas, and I am encouraged that victims are finding the courage to come forward and reach out to us knowing that they will be supported.
“No victim should suffer in silence, and Devon and Cornwall Police will continue to work hard to support victims and to give a voice to each and every one of them, regardless if this sees a rise in our crime figures.
“We aim to deliver an outcome that puts the safeguarding and the wishes of victims at the heart of our investigation and where appropriate brings offenders to justice.
“I am confident that not only are my staff and officers working hard to protect and serve the public of Devon and Cornwall, but that this part of the country continues to remain a safe place to live, work, and visit, and that the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime is still very low.”
Internal figures relating to crimes reported up to 31st March 2018 have also been released by the Force today. These figures show that Devon & Cornwall Police recorded a 22% increase in recorded crime, compared to the previous year. This reflects nationally reported increases in crime and is a reflection of the Forces hard work to improve our recording practices.