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ONS figures show rise in police-recorded crime

Police-recorded crime in England and Wales increased by six per cent during the year ending September 2015, reaching 4.3 million offences, according to the latest official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

One of the key factors in this trend was improved compliance with national recording standards by police forces, which has resulted in a higher proportion of crime reports being recorded.

The ONS noted that the Crime Survey for England and Wales revealed an estimated 6.6 million incidents of crime in the 12 months up to September 2015, which was not significantly different to the previous year's figure.

However, the improvements in crime recording had a big effect on the figures, particularly in some categories of violent crime.

'Violence against the person' offences rose by 27 per cent, or 185,666 incidents, a trend that was driven by growth in the 'violence without injury' sub-group (up by 130,207 offences, or 37 per cent).

Trends related to some of the more serious forms of police-recorded violence could be a concern to businesses that deal in high-value goods or large volumes of cash.

There was a nine per cent rise in offences involving knives or sharp instruments and four per cent growth in crimes involving firearms.

The ONS pointed out that numbers relating to these sorts of offences are less likely to be affected by changes in recording practices.

Another element of the data that could represent a security concern for many businesses showed the highest volume of shop theft since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in 2003.

Most offences recorded by the NCRS have declined steadily over the years, but shoplifting has slowly increased.

The ONS figures showed that incidents of shop theft increased by over 9,000 in the year up to September 2015, compared to the previous 12-month period.

This attracted a response from the Association of Convenience Stores, whose chief executive officer James Lowman pointed out that shop theft is a "serious crime, which for some retailers can be extremely damaging to the profitability of their business".

He added: "These government figures are disappointing and must not be ignored.

"Government must be clear that shop theft is a serious offence. Police and crime commissioners and police forces must prioritise shop theft. The courts must impose meaningful sentences to deter and punish shop theft. Retailers must report shop theft."

The Labour party responded to the publication by criticising the government, claiming that the Conservatives have reduced the police force by 17,000 officers and "broken their promise to the public to protect frontline officer numbers".

"Now we see the biggest increase in recorded crime in a decade," said Jack Dromey, Labour's shadow policing minister.

"The first duty of any government is the safety and security of our citizens. By overseeing the sharpest decline in police numbers anywhere in the EU, the Tories are letting the British people down."

Home Office minister Mike Penning argued that the government had prioritised reducing violence, including knife crime, and was working closely with police and other organisations to tackle the causes of these offences.

However, he also acknowledged that there is "more to do" in the battle against violent crime.

Posted by Andrew Miller

Image courtesy of Sarah Garrod

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