Reports of violent crime and sexual offences are on the rise. But is there more to the statistics than meets the eye? As the latest crime figures for the Harrogate district are released, RUBY KITCHEN reports.
Crime figures for the Harrogate district are up year on year. Violent crimes, sexual offences, and robberies have all seen a rise in reports.
But, say police, these are all small sums. And, with a steep fall in reports of burglaries, theft, and vehicle offences, equate to a handful of reports over the last 12 months.
“Overall, crime is up,” said Supt Mike Walker, county commander based at Harrogate Police Station.
“The number of recorded crimes in the Harrogate district is up 165 - that’s a rise of 3.5 per cent.
“But within that, 155 of those are violence without injury. That’s down to redefining and refocusing on harassment.
“Robbery is up. That doesn’t mean people are getting robbed left, right and centre.
“That was due to a peak in the run up to the Tour de France which was investigated and successfully dealt with.”
Many of the crime figures, said Supt Walker, are down to policing priorities.
The Harrogate district has seen an increase in the number of drug related crimes and weapons offences reported in the last year.
This, says Supt Walker, is largely down to the work of the new Road Crime Team, created last year and working to target cross-border criminals.
In recent months, as part of Operation Hawk, this team has helped take hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of drugs destined for the district off the region’s roads.
Country-wide, there has been a rise in reports of sexual assault.
This has been put down nationally to a rise in confidence in reporting historical offences, and has been the case since the Jimmy Savile scandal.
And, said Supt Walker, changing technologies, lifestyles, pro-active policing and a change in criminal behaviour all play a part in changing crime trends locally.
Some traditional crimes have seen a huge fall in reports, like thefts from cars and house burglaries.
It’s almost impossible to steal a car radio these days, said Supt Walker, and many modern-day sat nav systems are built in.
CCTV plays a part, he added, while home security and pro-active policing has impacted on people being targeted in their own homes.
“There are less opportunities for criminals nowadays,” he said. “That’s partly due to better security, more awareness from the public, and an incredible amount of work from police in making sure that we stop crime happening in the first place.
“I’m very pleased with the crime figures for the Harrogate district. Officers and partners have done a magnificent job in the last 12 months.
“We need now to maintain a focus as the rate of crime will plateau. To strive for future reductions whilst focusing on emerging areas like cyber crime and child sexual exploitation.
“Harrogate is still one of the safest places to live in the country. And the happiest, apparently. Let’s keep it that way.”
n Countywide, reported crime figures for North Yorkshire have fallen 52 per cent in the last 10 years.
The latest figures, released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), show that this year, there has been a slight rise in reports, up 333 crimes to 34,615.
But the Advertiser series, looking back through older figures, has found that reported crime figures have fallen by more than half in the past decade alone.
The total number of crimes reported in the year to March 2014 was 34,449. That figure in 2004 was 71,473 - a drop of 52 per cent.
One of the main issues police face in the Harrogate district surrounds the town and city centres, with people going out at night, drinking, and getting involved in violence or public order offences. Police have set up high visibility patrols at peak times, on a Friday and Saturday night.
This is an emerging issue across the county, said Supt Walker, and was being tackled by North Yorkshire Police by setting up a specialist cyber crime unit.
This is a seasonal issue, often peaking around certain times of year like Hallowe’en or through the summer months. Supt Walker said the area around Montpellier Hill was a particular focus, and in areas like the Valley Gardens.
Legal highs are becoming a concern in the Harrogate district and police say are looking at ways to monitor the prevalence, working with local schools.
Bogus callers and roofers, sneak-in burglars, targeting the elderly and vulnerable across the Harrogate district. Supt Walker says this issue, where criminals purposely target elderly and vulnerable members of the community to steal small amounts of cash or jewellery, is a particular focus.
Arson and criminal damage - 787 (up 20)
Burglary - 522 (down 69)
Robbery - 33 (up 15)
Sexual offences - 125 (up 32 per cent)
Theft - 1,602 (down 109)
Violence - 979 (up 273)
Vehicle offences - 297 (down 11)
Drug offences - 303 (up 45)
Possession of weapons - 27 (up 14)
Public order offences - 155 (up 24)
Miscellaneous - 91 (up 31)
Total - 4,921 (up 165 - 3.5 per cent)
ASB - 4,476 (up 207 - 5.1 per cent)
Arson and criminal damage - 198 (up 29)
Burglary - 82 (down 27)
Robbery - 18 (up 12)
Sexual offences - 21 (down 8)
Theft - 576 (down 37)
Violence 328 (up 85)
Vehicle offences - 57 (down 4)
Drug offences - 91 (up 29
Possession of weapons - 12 (up 8)
Public order offences - 73 (up 30)
Miscellaneous - 21 (up 8)
Total - 1,477 (up 125 - 9.2 per cent)
ASB - 1,315 (up 196 - 17.5 per cent)
Arson and criminal damage - 289 (up 62)
Burglary - 182 - (up 7)
Robbery - 9 (up 1)
Sexual offences - 52 (up 23)
Theft - 481 (up 11)
Violence - 299 (up 72)
Vehicle offences - 80 (down 21)
Drug offences - 112 - (up 12)
Possession of weapons - 3 (up 2)
Public order offences - 42 (up 12)
Miscellaneous - 32 (up 19)
Total - 1,581 (up 200 - 14.5per cent)
ASB - 1,477 (up 170 - 13 per cent)
Ripon and Pateley Bridge
Arson and criminal damage - 158 (down 39)
Burglary - 96 (down 39)
Robbery - 6 (up 3)
Sexual offences - 26 (up 5)
Theft - 231 (down 60)
Violence - 215 (up 2)
Vehicle offences - 66 (down 4)
Drug offences - 48 (up 12)
Possession of weapons - 8 (up 4)
Public order offences - 27 (down 14)
Miscellaneous - 22
Total - 903 (down 130 - 12.6 per cent)
ASB - 772 (down 266 - 25.6 per cent)
Knaresborough and Boroughbridge
Arson and criminal damage - 142 (down 32)
Burglary - 162 (down 10)
Robbery - 0 (down 1)
Sexual offences - 26 ( up 12)
Theft - 314 (down 23)
Violence - 137 (up 14)
Vehicle offences - 94 (up 18)
Drug offences - 52 (down 8)
Possession of weapons - 4 (same)
Public order offences - 13 (down 4)
Miscellaneous - 16 ( up 4)
Total - 960 (down 30)
ASB - 912 (up 117)