Surrey Police has published the County’s latest crime statistics, covering the year to 30 September 2018, which shows a 3.4% rise in recorded crime compared to the previous 12 months.
The rate of increase in crime has substantially reduced, down from the 14% rise recorded in March 2018 and the 20.1% increase seen this time last year (September 2017) indicating that the targeted and proactive interventions made to tackle a national increase in crime are making a difference in Surrey.
Of the 2,443 additional crimes, some of the increase can be attributed to improvements in crime recording. A recent inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to test the accuracy of Surrey’s crime recording graded the Force as ‘GOOD’ with more than 93% of crimes reported recorded accurately.
Speaking about the Force’s current crime picture, Assistant Chief Constable Nev Kemp said: “It’s encouraging to see that the rise in recorded crime in Surrey is beginning to stabilise and we continue to have one of the lowest crime rates in relation to our population.
“It’s important to remember that in some instances it’s good news to see a rise in reporting, for example hate crime (up 10.5% to 1,849 offences) and domestic abuse (up 7.3% to 7,532 offences), which we know have been underreported in the past. We’ve worked hard to increase the public’s trust and confidence in us and are now seeing greater willingness to report as a result.
“Areas of high harm including serious sexual offences, domestic abuse (DA), child abuse and hate crime will remain priority areas for us because they are areas where we find some of the most serious criminality and where we need to protect our most vulnerable victims. We are continuing to improve our investigative work and ensure we provide the best possible support and guidance to victims.”
Violent crime received the largest proportion of the increase with 1,926 more offences compared to the previous 12 months. For Surrey, 75% of the 29,407 violent crimes recorded are ‘without injury’ with the main increases relating to ‘assault without injury’, ‘malicious communications’ and ‘public fear, alarm or distress’.
7,531 of the violent crimes are domestic incidents, which is why the Force has committed to training over 90 per cent of first responders in the College of Policing accredited DA Matters training, up-skilled nearly 90 DA Matters Mentors and accredited the frontline in Domestic Abuse specific risk assessments. There is also an ongoing pilot, where an outreach advocate is embedded into the Safeguarding Investigation Unit to offer on the job advice and engagement.
Although the volume of offences are relatively small, an area of concern is the 32.2% increase in robberies. Of the 431 robberies, 376 relate to ‘Robbery of personal property’ with nearly a third of these involving a blade or sharp implement. To tackle this, officers have proactively used their stop and search powers to target those believed to be carrying an offensive weapon, leading to a 16.5% (83 offences) increase in possession of a weapon offences with a significant proportion of offenders aged below 20.
Determined to steer young people away from a culture of violence, officers have visited a number of schools to talk with students about the risks of carrying weapons and taken part in two knife amnesties within the last year, which led to 166 weapons being handed in across the county.
Positively, the number of burglaries in Surrey has reduced by 9.5% (633 offences) compared to the previous 12 months, showing that the operational activity introduced in 2017 to target problem offenders and criminal gangs in the county has begun to turn the tide.
Mr Kemp said: “We are involved in a programme of property marking with industry leaders Selecta DNA whereby we mark property and valuables in homes so that if there are any offences the property will be too hot to handle. We have focused this activity on the burglary areas that have been repeatedly targeted over a period of time.
“With most burglaries being carried out by opportunists, we encourage the public to introduce some simple home security measures to reduce the chances of becoming a victim.
“The 15.2% increase in serious sexual offences (up 240), and more specifically the 40.3% increase in rape offences, can largely be attributed to corrections made in our crime recording following an inspection by HMICFRS which highlighted some instances where multiple crime records should have been separated.
“These incidents have now been rectified, hence the increase in the number of records. Surrey continues to have one of the lowest levels of serious sexual assaults relative to the population.”