In the last few years we have worked hard to improve crime recording after our compliance in correctly recording crime at the last inspection in 2014 was rated 67 per cent. Since then we have made significant improvements and we believe we are much nearer to almost 90% compliance.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “At first glance these figures showing an increase in recorded crime may understandably appear alarming. Crime recording and data integrity is an ongoing focus for Avon and Somerset Constabulary and I continue to scrutinise this important area of work.
“With increasing demand from emerging crimes against our most vulnerable, changes to the way crime is recorded and fewer resources than ever before, the police are experiencing challenging times. However, the figures suggest that more victims have the confidence to report and I have been working hard to ensure that our most vulnerable, intimidated and persistently targeted victims receive specialist support to cope, recover and re-build their lives.
“I hope local people will see these results and know that the police are concentrating on the things that matter to them, with the aim of reducing crime and fear of crime.”
ACC Nikki Watson said: “We’re very pleased with what we’ve achieved in the past few years but we recognise that there’s still more to do before we’re where we want to be – delivering the best possible service and support for victims. And that starts with correctly recording the details of crimes against them.
“As more victims feel confident about coming forward to report incidents we expect crime levels in Avon and Somerset will continue to increase. For us, that’s a tangible demonstration of their belief in us to tackle crime and bring offenders to justice.
“Confidence in Avon and Somerset police remains high overall, reflecting the national trend, but we know there’s still more we should do. We want victims of all crimes to feel confident that they’ll get the right kind of support and service they expect and most certainly deserve.”
We’ve achieved this by going back to basics and by reviewing our processes. We looked at how the public contact us - via 999 or 101 calls; through speaking with local policing area officers; reporting incidents at police stations; via social media and referrals from our partner organisations.
We’ve also invested in a new crime recording system which has helped us to better identify the type of crime being reported at the first point of contact and how to record it accurately.
Although improvements in crime recording compliance are responsible for some of the increases in crime we have seen, it is also important to recognise new emerging crime types – such as child sexual exploitation and cybercrime - that have seen a significant increase in recent times.
ACC Watson said: “The increase in reports of sexual assaults coincides with significant work to encourage victims to come forward and report offences, secure in the knowledge that we will listen to them and robustly investigate the incident. There is still a great deal of work to be done though to instil belief in victims that we will take their allegations seriously and act swiftly at the earliest opportunity to provide the best outcome for them.”
To support victims we work closely with the Bridge sexual assault referral centre in Bristol, which provides specialist advisory support from experts in that field. For victims of violent crime the pioneering “Lighthouse” service provides a comprehensive integrated victim and witness care service, working closely with partner organisations to support some of the most vulnerable and intimidated victims of crime.
An increase in harassment offences runs parallel with the increase in the number of online offences (cyber bullying, grooming online, online blackmail) – also a new emerging crime type - which falls under the harassment offence.
Locally there may be peaks and troughs in crime levels, usually because crime levels are so low; any incident dramatically affects percentage changes. However where there are sudden specific increases such as distraction burglaries in a particular location, these are spotted and action is taken swiftly to prevent further people becoming victims.
Posted on Thursday 21st July 2016