DORSET Police are reassuring the public on its latest crime statistics after figures revealed recorded crime rose by 14 per cent last year.
This is according to the Office for National Statistics and the figures are from July 1st 2015 to June 30th 2016 compared with the previous 12 month period.
The increase in crime reported to police was predicted by the force in July last year and has been regularly discussed at Police and Crime Panel meetings.
It follows a national trend across England and Wales, with rises already seen in most police force areas.
Deputy Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “Dorset Police has worked hard to improve our compliance with the complex Home Office Counting Rules, and to ensure the public are confident to report crime to us.
“We have demonstrated we are fully committed to meeting the very high standards set out by the government and crime recording, which are inspected through HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).
“As a consequence of improved practice, the force is publishing increases in total crime which I wish to reassure you is due to a greater emphasis being placed on accuracy.”
Changes to crime recording over the past 12 months have also apparently had an effect on the figures released.
One change is the inclusion of malicious communications into the category of ‘harassment’ and therefore into the broad category of ‘violent crime’. This contributed to a 37 per cent rise in total violent crime.
Other increases have resulted from focused police activity, such as the work of the Paedophile Investigation Team proactively seeking out offenders.
As a result of the work of the Dorset Police Safeguarding Referral Unit and referrals from other partner agencies, Dorset has also seen an increase in reports of child neglect.
Dorset is among a minority of police forces that were graded as ‘good’ in the HMIC vulnerability inspection last year. The force was praised for its work to encourage people to report sexual offences, domestic abuse and other crimes involving vulnerable victims.
Deputy Chief Constable Vaughan added: “Our safeguarding activity and our victim-focused approach has led to more people coming forward to report crimes affecting the most vulnerable in the county.
“We make no excuse for encouraging people to report such crimes – whatever impact it has on statistics.
“I can reassure people that Dorset remains a safe place to live, work and visit. The officers and staff of Dorset Police are committed to ensuring it stays that way.”
Acting Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Colin Pipe, said: “Ensuring that people feel confident to report crime, whatever their situation, is a critical part of British policing.
“I am confident that the increase we are seeing is due to this enhanced trust, along with better recording practices, reflecting trends nationally.
“This rise has been articulated to the media and to the public many times in the last nine months, before these official figures were released.
“Reducing the overall number of victims of crime in Dorset is a long term objective of the commissioner’s second term in office and Dorset Police will continue to adapt with the changing nature of policing to aim at achieving that.”