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Crime rates return to pre-covid levels in Cumbria

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, received an update from the Chief Constable regarding the levels of reported crime in the county at his Public Accountability Conference (PAC) on Thursday 29 June 2022.

The latest figures cover both the last financial year and the last three years. The wider three-year figures give a better picture on the overall pattern of crime due to drops in crime figures during the Covid-19 lockdown periods, where offences fell as people were limited to time and interaction outside their homes.

Overall, recorded crime rose by 20% from March 2021 with the previous year, which covered some of the strictest lockdown periods. Across the three-year average it also increased in-line with predictions by 5%.

Neighbourhood crimes in Cumbria – including offences of particular concern to the public such as house burglaries – have been reduced by more than 22% over the last three years. The reduction of these type of local offences, which also features vehicle crime and criminal damage to property, follows an increased focus on neighbourhood policing in this time. Performance rates answering phone calls from the public improved in this period.

Demand on the force continues to be significant and statistics reveal the changing nature of incidents and offences.

In the last twelve months:

  • There were nearly 205,000 calls into the constabulary’s command and control room.
  • Incidents involving mental health increased by 12%.
  • Safeguarding referrals generated due to officers’ concerns over people they were dealing with went up by 4.9%, with 22,556 referrals made.
  • Missing from home incidents – which are complex and require multi-agency and multi-officer responses – increased by 24%.
  • Cybercrime increased by 15%.

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “The reduction of neighbourhood crime is significant as these are the crimes that affects most of the public in their day-to-day lives.

“We have had a real push around neighbourhood policing in the past year including a community beat officer pilot in west Cumbria as low-level crimes and anti-social behaviour have been highlighted by the public as a priority.

“It is key to compare figures for 21/22 to the last three years overall to provide a better understanding of our crime rates.

“When we were all in lockdown and couldn’t leave our homes for extended periods of time, which meant that criminals couldn’t operate in the way they were used to without drawing attention.

“Reducing their opportunity for crime was going to have a significant effect on crime rates which is why we are comparing this year’s figures to those of 2019/20, to provide a fair comparison.

“Cyber-crime increasing, although unsettling, is to be expected as technology is continuously evolving. However, we have a dedicated Cyber and Digital Crime Unit who investigate and assist with a wide range of reports to help bring justice and safeguard the most vulnerable in our communities to prevent re-victimisation.

“Sexual offences have risen by over 17% this year in comparison to 2019/20. Rape reports have risen by 10% with ‘other’ sexual offences rising by 20%. This can be seen as a negative but with more people coming forward and having confidence in the Police is a positive. ‘Other’ sexual offences also include non-contact offences that take place digitally via email, social media, phone etc.

“It was highlighted that 141 assaults were committed against emergency workers, with injuries, in 21/22 compared to 67 in 19/20. This is an increase of 110% and is unacceptable.

“All emergency services are there to serve and protect the public and are there to do their job – no one deserves to be abused when at work. I would urge everyone to treat everyone with respect and kindness.

“Although an increase in overall crime seems like a negative, it may be the opposite. We continuously encourage people to come forward to report and with reports increasing, it highlights to me that the public have confidence in their police force.

“I urge the public to continue to report any crime they are involved in or witness to 999 in an emergency and 101 in non-emergencies.

“Cumbria is still one of the safest places to live in England and Wales and I will continue to hold the Chief Constable to account in future PAC meetings.”

Chief Superintendent Lisa Hogan said: “Our officers and staff continue to work hard round-the-clock to deter and solve crime and keep people safe.

“The nature of crime changes as society changes and what these figures show is more offences are taking place online and are of a far more complex nature and therefore significantly more time-consuming.

“In addition, a lot of our demand is not crime-related in the traditional sense but includes our work to protect and safeguard people.

“For instance, the number of missing people incidents went up by more than a quarter.

“These figures show the overall picture is one of increasing demand and increasing vulnerability within the offences reported.”

Chief Superintendent Hogan added: “The public can take reassurance that key crimes which cause particular concern, such as house burglary, offences where families’ cars are targeted and the most serious violent crimes, have gone down in the last three years.

“Some of these offences are recorded in an overall category defined as neighbourhood crimes. The overall drop in these – there were 1,928 fewer offences compared to three years ago – shows our increased focus on neighbourhood teams has proved a positive move.”

For people ringing the force, 101 non-emergency calls had a median wait time of 23 seconds. Nearly 88 per cent of 999 calls were answered within 10 seconds. People calling into the constabulary’s 101 non-emergency phone line are having their call answered by an experienced officer, reducing the need to make reports in person or at a police station.

Chief Superintendent Hogan added: “In terms of the way the public contacts us, we have invested in additional officers in our command-and-control system and new initiatives such as our Live Chat functionality, which allows the public to engage online with officers in our control room in live-time without having to pick up the phone.”

Crimes that increased over the three years included sexual offences, overall violence against people – which covers a range of offences – and hate crime.

Chief Superintendent Hogan said: “The increase in recorded sexual offences is seen nationally, as well as in Cumbria, and can be attributed to many factors, including that the public are now becoming more confident in reporting incidents to police.

“We take reports of sexual offences very seriously and work closely with partners to ensure victims have access to the right support and that offenders are held accountable for their crimes.

“We are aware of concerns nationally and in our communities about violence against women and girls and the associated worries about safety.

“To protect people, we have also provided bespoke training to officers on night shifts in towns. The training provides officers with identifying key markers for potential perpetrators targeting vulnerable people coming out of venues of an evening.

“Despite the increase in reporting of sexual offences, we do believe that this area of crime is still under reported and we would urge anyone who has suffered a sexual offence to report it.

“Similarly, we believe hate crime is still under reported.

“Targeting a person because of who they are is unacceptable. Those guilty of such crimes should expect to be held to account by the police for their actions.”

Chief Superintendent Hogan added: “I’d like to thank our officers and staff for their ongoing hard work and professionalism this year.

“I’d also like to thank the public for continuing to support and engage with the constabulary, giving us the information, we need to stop crime happening and keep people safe.”

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