Overall crime levels fall in West Mercia – but violence and knife offences on rise
Recorded crime is down in West Mercia over the last 12 months, with drops in burglary, sexual and drug offences.
The figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, which cover the year up to December 2018, show an overall drop in recorded offences across the force area of one per cent – with a total of 85,554 offences recorded.
But crimes of violence against a person are up by four per cent, with a total of 29,801 recorded by police in the area.
That number was however considerably lower than the overall national increase, which stood at 19 per cent across England & Wales.
The issue of knife crime, which has hit the national headlines after a series tragic cases in cities across the country, also shows up in the report with police in the region recording an 11 per cent increase in the number of offences involving a knife.
In total there were 495 crimes recorded that involved a knife across the West Mercia area, up from 445 the previous year. That number included 275 instances of assault with injury and assault with intent to cause serious harm, and 107 robberies involving knives.
Possession of weapons offences saw a marked increase across the West Mercia region with forces recording an 18 per cent increase on the previous year – a total of 809.
Neighbouring force of West Midlands Police, which covers Wolverhampton and Birmingham, saw a 17 per cent rise in offences involving a knife.
The situation regarding knife crime has led Police Federation spokesman Richard Cooke to say it is possible to end the “terrible epidemic” of knife killings, but not with so few police officers.
He said: "If we are to tackle knife crime there needs to be changes from the ground level up. This means getting officers back into communities in divisions so they get to know the young people there who are at risk of getting drawn into crime.
"Sadly we have seen a degradation of local policing over the last nine years, but it is clear that we need a visible presence back on the streets.
"What we are seeing now is the natural consequence of years of cuts to officers and youth services."
In West Mercia burglary was down by seven per cent on the previous year, with officers recording 7,658 offences across the patch, along with drug offences which fell by 12 per cent.
In total police recorded 2,024 drug offences in the 12 months up to December.
West Mercia went against the national trend on public order offences, with the force recording a 10 per cent fall in the number, while nationally forces saw a 19 per cent increase.
The report authors said: "A large part of this increase is likely to reflect improvements to recording practices. For example, incidents that may have previously been recorded as an anti-social behaviour incident may now be recorded as a public order offence. It is possible that genuine increases in public disorder may also have contributed to the rise."