West Mercia sees fall in crime during lockdown but harassment and drugs offences are up

The number of reported crimes in the West Mercia region fell by more than a tenth in the year defined by coronavirus, though drugs offences, stalking and bike theft all rose.

With residents locked down and most activities curtailed, reports of crime were down 13 per cent in the 12 months up to December 2020 on the previous year – the biggest drop of any police force in the West Midlands.

West Mercia Police, which covers Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, saw a huge drop in reports of theft against the person (48 per cent) though instances of bicycle theft actually rose by six per cent.

Shoplifting fell by 30 per cent – likely a side effect of the long lockdown periods in which many shops were shut.

The figures, released on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics, show a five per cent drop in crimes of violence against the person, though within that bracket is the 12 per cent rise in stalking and harassment offences.

Burglaries

Sexual offences fell by six per cent, robbery by 18 per cent and theft by 28 per cent. Residential burglaries dropped by 22 per cent and non-residential burglaries by 29 per cent.

Criminal damage and arson reports fell by 15 per cent but drug offences rose by 16 per cent.

Neighbouring West Midlands Police actually saw an increase in total reported crimes by one per cent, while Dyfed-Powys police over the Welsh border recorded three per cent fewer crimes.

Across England and Wales, crime fell eight per cent from 6.1 million to 5.6 million. It included a nine per cent drop in knife crime.

The ONS said the annual drop was mainly driven by "substantial falls" of 15 per cent between April and June as the first lockdown restrictions were introduced.

While police-recorded crimes increased again from July to September as restrictions were gradually eased, they fell again in the last three months of the year as lockdown measures were re-imposed, it added.

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