Police chiefs in Bristol have sought to reassure the public after the latest crime figures showed violent crime has increased in the area in the past year.
According to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics, violent crime, including homicide and knife crime, continues to rise in the Avon and Somerset force area.
There were 43,314 violent crimes recorded by police in Avon and Somerset in the year to September 2019, according to figures released this morning.
That was a two per cent rise in a year, from 42,604 violent crimes a year before.
This is a faster rise than for crime generally, up from 137,793 in the year to September 2018 to 137,517 in the year to September 2019.
The latest figures included 16 homicides across Avon and Somerset, up from 15 a year before – but that is understood to include corporate manslaughter cases and other unlawful deaths. The number of murder inquiries undertaken by the force has fallen from 11 to nine in the same period.
Of the homicides recorded in Avon and Somerset, six involved a knife or sharp object, although that was down from eight a year before.
Generally, the area continues to see rising levels of serious crime involving a knife, including murder, attempted murder, assaults, threats to kill, robberies, and rape and sexual assaults.
There were 917 incidents in the year to September 2019, up from 843 a year before.
That’s a nine per cent rise in a year, with numbers of crimes having risen by two-thirds from 556 in the year to March 2011, when figures began.
(Image: Tristan Cork/Bristol Live)
“The Government’s funding announcement for policing was a move in the right direction, but it goes nowhere near enough on undoing the damage from the past decade of government cuts,” he added.
A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset police said they were pleased that overall, crime actually fell in the 12-month period to September, but acknowledged violent crime continues to rise.
“Avon and Somerset Police was one of just six forces in England and Wales to see a reduction in reported crime in the 12-month period leading up to September 2019,” he said.
“The majority of crime types recorded by the force have decreased, or saw significantly lower rates of increase, compared to the national picture too.
“For example, the number of recorded sexual offences, vehicle crimes and burglaries all fell during the past year.
“There was a small rise in the number of reports of violence against a person last year – albeit the increase was significantly lower than the national average of 12 per cent. However, it is important to note that the number of those crimes leading to an injury in the force area remained stable,” he added.
“We remain committed to tackling violent crime. In Avon and Somerset the establishment of Violence Reduction Units, led by the local authorities and working in partnership with police, education, health, social services and local communities, allows us to share information and work together to protect young people from harm and reassure the communities they live in.
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“Every school in our force area is now linked to a PCSO or neighbourhood beat manager so that relationships with young people can be built, and maintained, early on.
“We also have a whole range of youth intervention, diversion and engagement schemes underway, led by officers and staff out in our communities, to break down barriers, strengthen resilience and build stronger, safer communities,” he added.
(Image: Bristol Post)
Across England and Wales (excluding Greater Manchester), police recorded 617 homicides in the year ending September 2019, a six per cent fall from 654 compared with the previous year.
The number of homicides where a knife or sharp instrument was involved decreased by a fifth (20 per cent) over the year to 221 offences, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics.
The fall was driven in part by London, where the Metropolitan Police saw an 18 per cent reduction to 71 homicides involving a knife or sharp instrument compared with the previous year.
While the Crime Survey for England and Wales suggests both the overall level of crime and levels of violent crime remain stable, more crimes are being reported to the police.
Across England and Wales (excluding Greater Manchester), recorded crime (excluding fraud) rose by seven per cent in the year to September to five million reports.
However, the number of violent crimes reported to police rose by 13 per cent to 1.6 million.
Police Federation National Chair John Apter said: “Until policing has the resources it needs these increases in recorded crime will continue to increase.
“Society has become a more violent place and the police cannot and should not be expected to fight this crime epidemic alone.
“Policing needs more resources; the criminal justice system needs more investment and we need more prison places to ensure the most violent offenders are behind bars.