While overall crime in Devon has decreased slightly, according to new figures announced today, domestic abuse, shoplifting, sexual offences and violence have risen sharply.
Overall crime between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014 went down by 0.3 per cent, 122 fewer crimes than the previous year, despite deep cuts to the force's budget.
Devon and Cornwall Police say there have been substantial reductions in non-dwelling burglary (12.8% or 341 crimes), robbery (8.1% or 15 crimes), dwelling burglary (7.9% or 129 crimes), criminal damage (7.4% or 553 crimes) and vehicle offences (2.3% or 70 crimes), with historically low crime levels for dwelling burglaries and vehicle offences.
There have been some areas where crime levels have gone up sharply, including domestic abuse (22.8% or 886 crimes), violence without injury (16.4% or 686 crimes), shoplifting (15.6% or 556 crimes), sexual offences (13.6% or 128 crimes), public order offences (11.8% or 295 crimes) and violence with injury (2.8% or 143 crimes).
Chief Superintendent Paul Davies, Devon commander, welcomed the reduction in crime but acknowledged there are some areas which need more attention.
Ch Supt Davies said: “The reduction in crime in Devon is a commendable achievement by my officers and staff who have been working incredibly hard over the last 12 months to ensure Devon remains a safe place to live.
“We have seen significant reductions in robbery, burglary and criminal damage which are all extremely difficult and stressful for victims to cope with and I am pleased to see these crimes continue to fall.
“Despite this there has been an increase in some areas and there is further work to do to reduce crime even more.”
Crime performance data is hugely complex and these figures are only one indication of how the Force is doing. Crime figures are a useful measure to help identify where to direct resources but overall figures rarely show the true picture.
“Victims are at the forefront of everything we do and our officers focus on the crimes that have the most adverse impact on people’s lives. We are doing everything we can to reduce crime in these areas.
“Domestic abuse, which accounts for about a third of all violent crime, remains a high priority for us. This, along with sexual offences, is an area that has been traditionally under-reported to police. Officers have concentrated on encouraging victims to report incidents to police, which may help to explain why the number of incidents in this area has increased.
“Reports of shoplifting have increased; a trend being seen nationally. We are taking action to tackle this across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, working with local partners and businesses to reduce retail crime.
“We know there are challenges ahead in tackling levels of violent crime, particularly alcohol-related violence and these are areas we will be focusing particular attention on this year. However this is not something we can tackle alone; our partners and the local community also have a role to play in keeping Devon safe from harm.”