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Gwent violent crime rise linked to recording changes

Free Press Series: Gwent violent crime rise linked to recording changes Gwent violent crime rise linked to recording changes

CHANGES in how violent crimes are recorded have led to a spike in the number of the offences in Gwent.

New figures for the year up to September 2013 show recorded crime in Gwent has neither fallen nor risen.

But the number of recorded incidents of violence against the person rose by 29 per cent, while there was a 51 per cent increase in violence without injury.

But domestic burglary fell by eight per cent and drug offences fell by 21 per cent. Crime figures have been controversial in Gwent and nationally – with a recent internal review showing that there could be between four to eight per cent more crimes a year because of problems with recording them.

A Gwent Police spokesman said after April 2012 Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary advised the force that it wasn’t recording violent incidents as accurately as it could be.

He said the correct category wasn’t always used, adding: "The change in recording does explain the spike in violence as seen in the figures published today."

According to the figures, there were 34,828 total recorded crimes in Gwent in the year to September 2013 – neither up or down on the year to September 2012.

There were 6,639 instances of violence against the person, up by 29 per cent over the same period.

Police recorded 3,587 incidents of violence with injury, up by 15 per cent, and 3,049 incidents of violence without injury, up by 51 per cent.

There were 527 sexual offences recorded, a rise of 10 per cent, and 16,897 thefts, down slightly by two per cent. Officers recorded 1,769 domestic burglaries, down by eight per cent, but offences of theft from the person rose by 16 per cent to 165 cases.

There were 2,192 drug offences recorded, a fall of 21 per cent.

Gwent temporary deputy chief constable Lorraine Bottomley said the reduction in burglaries was welcome showing operations to target and prosecute offenders are working: “Alcohol and drug abuse continues to be a major factor when it comes to violent crime.”

She added that the increase in sexual offences was positive with an increase in reports suggesting victims have more confidence to come forward and seek support.

The police and crime commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, said he has made his views on the impact arbitrary targets can have on crime recording clear.

He said he is more concerned about the quality of service the public receive than how crime is recorded: “The chief constable has made it perfectly clear to everyone in the force that ethical and accurate crime recording is essential to provide the public with confidence in the service they provide and I’m happy with the direction the force is now taking.”

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