Robberies on the rise in Northumberland, recorded crime figures reveal

The number of robberies in Northumberland has increased by more than 50%, according to the latest police recorded crime statistics.

By Ralph Blackburn, data reporter
Friday, 01 February, 2019, 08:56

Office for National Statistics data shows there were 89 reported robberies in the 12 months to September 2018.

These can include muggings, as well as more serious attacks such as hold ups with guns and knives.

That figure is up 51% on 2016-17, when 59 incidents were recorded.

The statistics are based on crimes recorded with the police, and the ONS urges caution in interpreting some of these figures. However, statisticians said there appears to be a genuine rise in robberies.

Helen Ross, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: "In recent decades we've seen the overall level of crime falling, but in the last year, it remained level.

"Burglary, shoplifting and computer misuse are decreasing but others, such as vehicle offences and robbery are rising.

"We have also seen increases in some types of 'lower-volume, high-harm' violence including offences involving knives or sharp instruments."

Overall, police recorded crime in Northumberland increased in the 12 months to September 2018.

Over the period, 26,075 crimes were recorded, up by 17% on 2016-17.

That means there was a rate of 82 crimes per 1,000 residents during 2017-18, slightly below the England and Wales average of 85.

Gun and knife possession offences in Northumberland rose by 24 to 155 incidents.

There have been no homicides, which are murders or manslaughters. There were three cases of death or injury by dangerous driving.

Across England and Wales, the number of recorded homicides rose by 14%, to the highest level since 2008. These figures excluded people who died in terror attacks.

In Northumberland, theft, one of the most high volume crimes, increased by 7%. Drugs related offences rose by 22%.

Northumbria Police’s Superintendent Andy Huddleston said: “Numbers don’t ever tell the whole story and I would ask that the public don’t just look at the overall increase in recorded crime.

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“Recorded crime has been rising for a number of years now but that does not mean that our region is less safe than it has been in the past.

“What these figures do show is that residents in our Force area are the least likely in the entire country to be victims of household crime, including burglary.

“These figures also highlight the continued confidence the public have in contacting police to report crimes.

“There have also been reductions in violent incidents and the figures show we rank highly in public confidence.

“That is a result of a lot of hard work by police officers and staff who dedicate themselves to keeping people safe and I hope that offers reassurance to the communities we serve.”

Commenting on the national figures, Chief Constable Bill Skelly, of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said: "Rising crime, increased terrorist activity and fewer police officers have put serious strain on the policing we offer to the public.

"We are determining the additional capabilities and investment we need to drive down violence and catch more criminals - and we will make the case at the next Government Spending Review."

Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said: "These statistics show that your chance of being a victim of crime remains low, but we recognise that certain crimes - particularly violent crime - have increased, and we are taking action to address this."

Criminal damage in Northumberland, which includes arson and vandalising cars and houses, has gone up, from 4,071 incidents in 2016-17, to 4,190 in the latest figures.

While violence with injury, which includes assault, GBH and wounding, has risen, this could be due to improved police recording.

Similarly sexual offences are hard to judge as many more victims are now coming forward due to a series of high profile cases.

In Northumberland, there were 897 incidents recorded between October 2017 and September 2018, a 40% rise on the previous year, when 642 crimes were reported.

There were also 2,637 cases of stalking and harassment reported over the same period.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, commented: "Society just isn’t as safe as it once was, and although the police service is doing everything within its power, we are swimming against the tide."