Rise in violence as pandemic lowers crime figures

The number of violence offences recorded in Northumberland over the past year increased – despite an overall fall in crime, new figures reveal.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 2:30 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd July 2021, 4:55 pm
Pandemic drives down crime figures

The Office of National Statistics data shows Northumbria Police recorded 22,013 offences in the area over the 12 months to March – the peak of the coronavirus pandemic – which was a decrease of nine per cent on the previous year.

This puts the overall crime rate at 68.3 per 1,000 people, compared to a national average of 77.6.

There were 8,654 incidents of violence – an increase of three per cent on the previous year.

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Other crimes recorded in Northumberland included:

*731 sexual offences, down eight per cent.

*4,873 thefts, down 31%.

*3,216 incidents of criminal damage and arson, down 11%.

*545 drug offences, up 39%.

*157 possessions of weapons such as firearms or knives, down seven per cent.

*3,092 public order offences, down one per cent.

Overall, the police recorded 13% fewer crimes in England and Wales, with around 4.6 million offences in the year to March.

The ONS said the annual drop was helped by a "substantial" fall in crime during April last year, when the first lockdown restrictions were introduced.

In March this year, recorded crime was higher than the previous year as the phased exit from lockdown started.

Billy Gazard, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on patterns of crime.

"There were large decreases in domestic burglaries and theft from the person, as more people stayed at home and limited their social contact."

But the figures did show a 28% increase in stalking and harassment offences across England and Wales.

This was driven by an increase in cyber stalking cases during the pandemic, according to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust which says it had seen a rise in calls to its helpline since March last year.

Violet Alvarez, spokesperson from the trust, said: "We know that domestic abuse has risen drastically during the pandemic, and this is evident in the rise of ex-partner stalking cases that we have seen on the helpline."