Crime across County Durham remains level with 14% increase in sexual offences and 27% increase in violence 

BIG falls in vehicle crime, burglaries and criminal damage over the last 12 months have helped keep recorded crime in County Durham and Darlington at a similar level as the previous year.

From 1st April 2014 to 31st March this year a total of 32,953 offences were reported to Durham Constabulary. This equates to a notional rise of just less than 1% compared to the previous 12 months, when 32,751 were recorded.

This was despite a significant number of historical sexual and physical assaults being logged as part of the ongoing Operation Seabrook investigation, the largest of its kind in the UK, which is looking into allegations of abuse at the former Medomsley Detention Centre.

Over the last year there were encouraging falls in the reports of theft from a motor vehicle – down 31% from 2,629 to 1,828 – burglaries, which fell by 8% (4,283 to 3,925and criminal damage and arson, which fell by 3% from 6,938 offences to 3,714)

However, there was an 14% rise in sexual offences and a27rise in reports of violence against the person, with offences in this category having gone from 5,152 to 6,536.

While the rise in sexual offences is generally regarded as a sign more victims are prepared to come forward, report the crime and seek help from the authorities, police saythe surge in this category, and also violent offences is largely due to changes in recording practices.

Last year a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) into the integrity of crime recording found major variations across forces in terms of how certain offences were categorised.

Across England and Wales, police forces generally have now adopted a more rigorous approach to recording certain offences as ‘violent’ or as ‘sexual offences’ to align with the recommendations of the HMIC report.

In some other force areas this is resulting in even bigger yearly percentage rises than the 27% recorded in Durhamin violence against the person.

Dave Orford, ACC of Durham Constabulary said: “Our staff have worked extremely hard this year to ensure that people of County Durham and Darlington continue to live in one of the safest places in the country. We are so proud that we give support to our victims and also proud of the reduction in crime.”

PCC Ron Hogg said: I would like to congratulate Durham Constabulary on an excellent year despite these challenging times.  County Durham and Darlington remains as one of the safest places in the country to live, work and visit.”