A senior police officer has questioned the way in which violent crimes are recorded in Norfolk, after a man being hit with a biscuit was described as Actual Bodily Harm (ABH).
Stephen Bett, Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner, has called the types of incidents which have been classed as violent “jaw-dropping”.
The officer uncovered the incidents after he asked the county’s chief constable to explain a 14 per cent rise in crime, suspecting that the shocking statistics weren't all that they seemed.
After he learned that the spike was due to a change in the way the force recorded certain crimes, he asked to be provided with examples.
Incidents of violent crime which Mr Bett regarded as questionable included a woman throwing a biscuit at a man and leaving him with a small red mark being recorded as ABH.
Other instances recorded as ABH included a young child swinging around the boxing gloves he had been given as a gift and clipping his smaller sibling; and a small child brushing another across the arm with a stinging nettle.
Mr Brett was also told that a child riding into his friend while doing a wheelie was noted down as an assault, as was an incident involving a mother who slapped her child on the hand once for stealing a chocolate bar.
On top of this, police have changed the way in which they deal with “malicious communications” – which relate to offensive texts or letters – meaning an extra 183 offences have been classed as violent crimes since April. The vast majority related to texts.
“You could not make this up - it's jaw-dropping,” Mr Bett said, adding that he public will likely find what police officers have recorded as violent crime “hard to believe to say the least.”
“I frankly couldn't believe what I was reading. Is it any wonder we have seen a rise in recorded violent crime in Norfolk if these types of incidents have to be logged?”
Stressing that he does not want to trivialise any incident involving a victim, he went on: “I am struggling to see how someone being hit by a biscuit or brushed by a stinging nettle fits anyone's idea of a violent crime. I think people will also be surprised that text messages are 'violent'."
A spokesman for Norfolk police told the Eastern Daily Press: "National crime recording standards give the police a duty to record these incidents as crimes.
"However, we have a measured approach to how we deal with them. Just because we record these as crimes, it will not always be appropriate to arrest or seek to prosecute the alleged offenders. It is very much dependant on the individual circumstances of each report."
Additional reporting by PAReuse content