Crime figures rise in Norfolk but drop in Suffolk

Stephen Bett Norfolk's new Police and Crime Commissioner ENGANL00120121122145829
Stephen Bett Norfolk's new Police and Crime Commissioner ENGANL00120121122145829
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Police chiefs have insisted residents should not be alarmed by a sharp rise in Norfolk’s crime rate.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show the number of offences recorded in the county rose by 14 per cent last year, compared with the previous year.

And the Norfolk force’s own crime mapping technology reveals the number of crimes in the Thetford policing area was also up, by about six per cent.

However, Suffolk’s total crime figure was down two per cent and where figures did rise, the increase was lower than the regional and national climb in all but sex offences and shoplifting.

Norfolk’s senior officers were called to a meeting with the county’s police and crime commissioner Stephen Bett last week to explain the rise.

But, asked whether residents should be worried, Mr Bett said: “No, they shouldn’t.”

A police spokesman added: “This increase was anticipated following a renewed focus on the quality of crime recording.

“The increases do not necessarily mean more crime is happening, rather there is greater consistency when recording crime and that victims have confidence in coming forward.”

Figures reveal a rise in sexual offences of 47 per cent in Norfolk and 49 per cent in Suffolk, against increases of 42 per cent in the East and 32 per cent nationally.

Mr Bett said a large proportion of the reported sex cases were historic, which he believes demonstrates an increased confidence among victims to report them.

While violent crimes rose 36 per cent in Norfolk, they only rose 10 per cent in Suffolk, compared to 21 per cent nationally .

But Mr Bett has told Norfolk chief constable Simon Bailey to publish a breakdown of the types of offences now classed as violent crime.

He said sending malicious text messages now has to be recorded as ‘violent’.

He argued that creates a misleading impression and insisted accident and emergency units would be ‘over-run’ if what he classed as violent crime was truly rising.

In Suffolk, robbery was down 22 per cent, where it was up 16 per cent in Norfolk against a national drop of 13 per cent. However, shoplifting was up five per cent in both counties against a national rise of only three per cent.