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Wiltshire has seen a drop of eight per cent in reported crime over the past 12 months as police forces across the country continue to see the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

generic police sideThe latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that crime in Wiltshire has dropped more than the national decrease (three per cent) and regional South West decrease (five per cent).

This data shows that Wiltshire Police has the second lowest figures for reported crime per population during the 12 months to June 2021, with 52.5 crimes for every 1,000 people.

However, although the Force’s long-term trend shows relative stability in the crime rate, we are expecting crime volumes to increase as we return to expected levels, post-Covid.

Superintendent Sarah Robbins, Wiltshire Police’s head of geographical crime said: “Although this eight per cent reduction in reported crime is obviously a positive thing, both for us as a police force and for our communities, it is important to remember that these figures reflect an unprecedented 12 months, where the pandemic had an understandable and predictable impact on the types of crimes being reported.

“However, the fact Wiltshire has the second lowest crime rate per population is something to be celebrated and I hope it provides some reassurance to people locally about the work Wiltshire Police is doing to keep people safe.

“We are now focused on the long-term picture, and we are already looking ahead to what we expect the coming years to bring as the country returns to a new normality.

“Our job now is to be prepared for this so we can respond and ensure any crime rises are minimal.

“We are committed to protecting the public and although a huge amount of police work is around investigating and solving crime, and ensuring offenders are brought to justice, it is potentially even more important that we focus on crime prevention and reduction.

“We have various long-term initiatives in place, including working closely with partner agencies, to tackle the root cause of crime and ideally prevent offences being committed in the first place.”

In the time period analysed by the ONS, Wiltshire Police has seen significant reductions in shoplifting (-34 per cent), theft (-47 per cent), residential burglary (-37 per cent) and vehicle offences (-17 per cent). This is expected, and largely in line with the national picture, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns meaning businesses were closed and people were staying at home.

- We have seen increases in stalking and harassment (13 per cent), sexual offences (12 per cent) and robbery (seven per cent).

- With regards to stalking and harassment, while there has been an increase in reports, Wiltshire Police is the lowest police force nationally for recorded crimes per 1,000 residents and our increase is below both the national and regional rate. Also, the nationwide increase is likely to have been impacted by the huge amount of proactive work to raise awareness of these types of offences and encourage reporting, and changes to crime recording guidelines.

- We have also seen an increase in rape reports, but this was largely driven by a single month in 2020 which saw an unusually high number of reports (of which, half related to non-recent offending). Our most recent data, for the year ending October 2021, shows our rape reports have actually decreased by 1.3 per cent compared to the previous 12 months.

- Wiltshire Police was one of just three Forces to see an increase in robbery, bucking the national and regional trend, but this can be explained by two factors. Firstly, we have a low level of these sorts of crimes, so this percentage increase was down to just four additional crimes. Secondly, the previous year had a single month with exceptionally low robbery reports, which skewed the annual figures to create an exceptionally low year.

Supt Robbins added: “We know that sometimes statistics alone can paint an inaccurate picture, so I hope that providing the context behind some of these figures and explaining the analysis that we carry out to understand various crime trends will be reassuring for our communities.

“For example, although the rise in reports of rape looks concerning, we want to make it clear that our own most recent data has actually seen a drop of 1.3 per cent.

“Dealing with rape and serious sexual offences is currently a priority for the Force, and we have been working closely with partner agencies to ensure we have a range of measures in place so we can both support victims and also increase the likelihood that the perpetrator will face justice.

“It goes without saying that we take reports of rape and sexual assault incredibly seriously and we want our communities to have complete confidence in reporting these types of offences to the police.

“We keep a very close eye on all of our data, so we can act quickly to understand the potential reasons behind various figures and take any necessary action to prevent crime and keep people safe.

“Overall, my main message to the public is that when you compare our overall data to other Forces of a similar size and population, Wiltshire continues to be a very safe place to live and work and our officers and staff continue to work incredibly hard to protect the public.”