PRESS RELEASE - Crime figures reflect Wiltshire Police commitment to tackling County Lines drug gangs

Alert message sent 23/04/2020 15:42:00

Information sent on behalf of Wiltshire Police

Date: 23 April 2020

Crime figures reflect Wiltshire Police commitment to tackling County Lines drug gangs

Wiltshire Police’s ongoing commitment to tackling County Lines drugs gangs and the associated violence is reflected in the latest crime figures released by the ONS.

The Office of National Statistics has released the figures for the 12 months leading up to December 2019.

It is important to note that these figures show the demand on the police before the Coronavirus pandemic, so do not reflect the current situation in the county.

The data up to December 2019 for Wiltshire includes:

Overall recorded crime has increased by 4.5 per cent. This is slightly higher than the 3 per cent national increase.

For every 1,000 people in Wiltshire there are 61.8 crimes, which puts us below other police forces of a similar size      and population.

Violence against the person offences have increased by 8.9 per cent, in line with the national increase of 9 per cent.

Possession of weapons offences have increased by 26 per cent and drug offences have increased by 49.6 per cent. However, both of these have been attributed to the high profile proactive County Lines work being carried out across the county over the past 12 months, which has resulted in greater detection of these types of offences.

Sexual offences have reduced by eight per cent and burglary has reduced by six per cent.

Cyber crime has increased by nine per cent. This is partly down to better awareness and recording of that crime type, but also reflects the challenges facing all police forces across the country as demand in that area increases.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson said: “I am provided with regular updates on Wiltshire Police’s crime figures and performance, including the background and context to this data.

“I know that on the face of it people may find some of these statistics concerning, including the increase in drugs and weapons offences.

“However, I have been reassured that this is reflective of the ongoing commitment by the force to tackle County Lines and organised criminality in our county.

Mr Macpherson added: “The overall increase in crime could also be concerning, particularly compared to the figures national and regionally.

“Very often this is down to better recording and compliance, and one area where we know that to be true, is in domestic abuse and stalking and harassment, which has increased by 27 per cent.

“Previously, these would have been crimes which would have been committed but not reported to the police. However, we are carrying out ongoing work to raise awareness of these types of offences and encourage victims to come forward and speak to us about what is happening to them.

“This week, for example, is National Stalking and Harassment week, so the Force is proactively engaging with victims and witnesses and urging them to come forward and report these crimes.

“Of course, I will be keeping a close eye on all these figures – it is my role to act on behalf of the public to hold the police to account. But at the moment I feel reassured, that Wiltshire Police is performing well to keep our communities safe.”

Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said: “There has been a lot of interest in the reducing demand on police forces in the current climate, due to the face that people are staying at home during the Covid19 lockdown.

“However, these statistics are part of the usual publication process, and capture the data for the 12 months up to December 2019 – so reflect our work before the coronavirus pandemic.

“With regard to the drugs and weapons offences, over the past 12 months we have carried out a number of high-profile operations targeted the County Lines gangs which come into the county to sell drugs, exploit young and vulnerable people and bring with them violence and misery.

“This type of criminality has been operating underground for some years, but over the past year we have cracked down on these gangs, leading to a greater number of arrests and convictions, as well as the seizure of weapons and drugs from our streets.

“I know this is an area of crime that people have concerns about and it is a topic which attracts widespread media coverage, locally and nationally, but please be reassured that tackling County Lines is one of the Force’s main priorities and we are determined to continue our robust approach to apprehending and convicting these types of offenders.”
Message sent by
Lee Pelling (Police, Neighbourhood PC, CPT Trowbridge)

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