Huge fall in crime during lockdown but drug offences rise

There were significant drops in nearly all types of crime during lockdown, according to official figures.

With people asked to remain home and pubs closed during lockdown – which began in March and continued until June 23 – it will come as no surprise that overall crime in West Mercia is down for the period, although some offences did increase.

Drug use, the theft of bicycles, and stalking and harassment, all went up for the period from April to June – a similar trend was reflected across forces across the UK.

Those increases were set against an overall fall in crime of 19 per cent for West Mercia, including a drop of six per cent in violence.

The force also reported a drop in crime year-on-year – and not just for the lockdown period – with figures showing a fall of five per cent, despite a rise of seven per cent in crimes of violence against a person.

During lockdown there was a 39 per cent increase in drug offences according to the figures from the Office for National Statistics. From April to June this year there were 739 of the offences recorded by police.

Stalking and harassment was up 19 per cent, while bicycle theft was also up 12 per cent.

Drug offences recorded by police in England & Wales

There were huge falls in the number of burglaries and vehicle offences. Burglaries of homes were down 30 per cent with 733 recorded, while non-residential burglaries were also down 28 per cent with 363 reported.

There were 739 vehicle offences over the period and 257 bicycle thefts.

Out of a total of 17,359 offences, 7,680 were violent.

The figures do also show an increase in knife crime. For the 12 months up to June this year it was up 27 per cent with 734 offences involving a blade.

Throughout lockdown Dyfed Powys Police also saw a 15 per cent fall in crime, with a 12 per cent fall in violent offences.

Mission

There were however 16 per cent increases in stalking and harassment and an 18 per cent increase in drug offences.

In the year on year comparison crime in Dyfed Powys fell only slightly, by one per cent.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion

West Mercia's Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said he was "encouraged" by the figures, and that focussed efforts from the force had contributed to the fall – and not just lockdown.

He highlighted a number of initiatives designed to stop criminals, but said that "there is work to do in tackling violent crimes in West Mercia".

He said: “I have been largely encouraged by today’s crime figures, which show a decrease across a number of crime types in West Mercia. Covid-19 has and has changed the lives of all of us over the last eight months and the social restrictions on movement has contributed to a reduction in acquisitive crimes such as burglary, vehicle offences and robbery

“Covid-19 is not the whole story, and I have made it my mission to combat and reduce acquisitive crime by investing in crime prevention initiatives such as We Don’t Buy Crime, and to the increase uptake of SmartWater across the region, which will have had a positive impact on the reduction.

“Whilst I am reassured that some progress has been made, it is clear that there is work to do to tackle violent crime in West Mercia and I will continue to challenge and support West Mercia Police to make those improvements. These crimes are often connected with the illicit drug trade and serious organised crime, wreaking havoc in some communities and ruining lives of those with addiction. I will not give up the fight to target these criminals and protect those vulnerable to their behaviour.”

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