Crime in England and Wales at highest level in a decade, with 18 per cent increase in violent offences in last year

Figures come as it is revealed number of police officers at lowest level since 1985

Data shows recorded crime went up by 10 per cent on 2015-16
Data shows recorded crime went up by 10 per cent on 2015-16

Crime in England and Wales is at the highest level in a decade, and violent crime increased by 18 per cent in the last year, official figures show.

Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed recorded crime went up by 10 per cent on 2015-16.

The Government downplayed the findings but admitted “there is more we must do” to tackle the upsurge in violent crime.

The revelations came as separate ONS data showed the number of police officers was the lowest in more than 30 years.

There were 123,142 policemen and women across all ranks in England and Wales in March, described by a Home Office report as “the lowest number of officers since 1985”.

Those officers recorded nearly five million offences over the last year to March 2017, with 175,060 recorded offences of violence against the person.

Violence with injury jumped by 8 per cent and violence without injury rose by a quarter.

The ONS said the increase in violence was driving the upsurge in overall crime statistics.

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There was also a large rise in the assault without injury category that includes modern slavery, which rose by 1,385 offences, and stalking, up by 1,135 crimes.

Police also recorded 723 homicides, an increase of 149 on the previous year, but this includes the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster, the ONS said.

When the Hillsborough cases are excluded, homicides rose by 9 per cent.

John Flatley, head of crime statistics for the ONS, said: “The latest figures show the largest annual rise in crimes recorded by the police in a decade.

“While ongoing improvements to recording practices are driving this volume rise, we believe actual increases in crime are also a factor in a number of categories.

“Some of the increases recorded by the police are in low-volume, but high-harm, offences such as homicide and knife crime that the Crime Survey is not designed to measure.

“If the increases in burglary and vehicle theft recorded by the police continue we would expect these to show up in the survey in due course. We will continue to monitor these trends and investigate the factors driving any changes.”

Policing and fire Minister Nick Hurd said: “Our police officers and staff do a fantastic job every day to keep us safe, and they have played a key role in today’s news that crimes traditionally measured by the Independent Crime Survey for England and Wales are down by well over a third since 2010 and down by 69 per cent since its 1995 peak.

“The Office for National Statistics is clear that much of the rise in violent offences recorded by police is down to better recording by forces but also believes some of the increases may be genuine and clearly there is more we must do to tackle the violent crimes which blight communities.

“We recognise that crime is changing and we are determined to get ahead of new and emerging threats to the safety and security of our families and communities. Our latest action, announced in the past week, includes urgent work to bear down on acid attacks and proposals to strengthen the law to get knives off our streets. Our Domestic Abuse Bill will help to bring this heinous crime out of the shadows and ensure victims receive both support and justice, backed by £100m funding to help prevent and address violence against women and girls. We are also investing £1.9bn to help counter the cyber threats we face.

“We will continue our work to ensure that police have the resources, the training and the powers they need to protect all victims from harm and bring offenders to justice.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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