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Crime generally continues to fall in Lancashire, but sexual and drug offences rise

John Freeman
On the day after the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced swingeing cuts to public services, including the police, Home Office crime statistics released today show that Lancashire is still a very safe place to live, with police officers and police staff continuing to achieve higher than average reductions in crime.

The figures would appear to suggest that the levels of policing have done much to keep crime figures falling. Lancashire Constabulary previously announced it would need to find £50 million and lose around 1,000 people over the next four years, if 25% cuts to policing were announced by the Government in the Comprehensive Spending Review and although the announced cuts now appear to be lower, savings will still have to be made.

From June 2009 to June 2010, there was a 9.6 per cent reduction in crime or 11,153 less victims across the county, in comparison to the same period the year before. This compares to the national average of 8 per cent less crimes.

Crimes of public concern, such as burglary and criminal damage, have been reduced significantly, with house burglary down by 16.7 per cent or 871 crimes, a figure significantly above the national average of 8 per cent. Other burglary offences fell by 7.6 per cent or 618 crimes and criminal damage fell by 19.5 per cent or 5,747 crimes.

Violent crime has been reduced too, with violence against the person having fallen by 5.9 per cent or 1,390 crimes; and violence with injury having fallen by 11.9 per cent or 1,441 crimes. Robbery too has been reduced by 23 per cent or 195 crimes.

Reductions in vehicle crime have also been achieved, with offences against vehicles down 19.5 per cent or 2,359 crimes.

Fraud and forgery fell by 1.1 per cent or 35 crimes; and other theft offences fell by 3.2 per cent or 867 crimes.

There was an increase in sexual offences of 24.1 per cent or 285 crimes. This mirrors a national trend, and is partly explained through increased reporting, with victims of sexual offences encouraged to come forward.

Sexual Offences are broken down into Serious Sexual Offences and Other Sexual Offences, the majority of the increase in Sexual Offences was in the category of Other Sexual Offences, an increase of 23.5% (220 crimes) in comparison with the 12 month period to June 2009 (up from 937 to 1,157).

Drugs offences also showed an increase. These offences are up by 10.6 per cent or 504 crimes, but officers believe this can be explained by more people coming forward with information, as a result of increased public confidence in the ability of police to take action.

Chief Constable Steve Finnigan said: “Today’s Home Office figures show that year-on-year, we are continuing to reduce crime, which is very good news for the people of Lancashire.

“Crime levels are currently extremely low, which makes our county one of the safest places in the country to live and work.

“It is really reassuring to know that fewer people are becoming victims of crime, and it is also encouraging to see through our detection figures that our grip on offenders is tightening. They clearly demonstrate that if you commit crime in Lancashire, the chances are you will be caught.”

Mr Finnigan praised the public as well as partner agencies for their help to reduce crime and increase detections. He also urged them to keep up the good work.

He said: “We couldn’t have achieved this success without help from our partners, and from members of the public, so I want to say a big thank-you to them. They have played a key role in our success; each in their own different ways, by giving us information for example, or by working with us to take action.

“Their assistance has made all the difference, and as we move forward over the coming months and years, which will no doubt be very challenging, we will need this continued support even more.”

Alluding to proposed cuts to police budgets, Mr Finnigan said: “Lancashire has always been known for high performance, and that needs to remain the case as we enter into this period of unprecedented change. We will continue to focus on reducing and detecting crime, anti-social behaviour and on protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities.”

Malcolm Doherty, Chair of Lancashire Police Authority, said: “The continued reduction in crime means that Lancashire residents are even less likely to become a victim of crime, which is good news for our communities.

“At a recent meeting of the Authority, Members also noted the consistently high levels of detections achieved by the Constabulary, meaning that people committing a crime in Lancashire stand a good chance of being caught.”

County Councillor Doherty added: “Lancashire is consistently in the top ten performing forces for detection rates, and between April and September 2010, the Constabulary achieved a detection rate of 36.8%, which places it at the top of its most similar group of Forces for all detections. This illustrates the commitment and professionalism of our officers and staff.”

Lancashire Constabulary: Difficult times ahead but Constabulary will continue to bear down on crime, says Lancashire's chief