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Crime hits 19-year low but sex offences on the rise
CRIME in Dorset is at a 19-year low but there has been an increase in the number of serious sex crimes, hate crime and alcohol-related violence.
Dorset Police said that there were 2,951 fewer crimes than in any year since the force started records in 1995.
This 7.3 per cent reduction marks the sixteenth year that overall crime in the county has decreased.
The news came in the draft annual report put before the Dorset Police and Crime Panel at County Hall yesterday.
The draft report, which will be available for the public, laid out what exactly had been achieved by the PCC in the last year.
It is the first report since the Dorset PCC was elected to office more than 18-months ago.
The panel praised the work of the PCC and the content of the draft report.
This included establishing a Victim’s Bureau and working to reduce re-offending in Dorset.
The Dorset plan was published in 2013 highlighting six key priorities including aims to reduce number of victims of crime, anti-social behaviour and the number of people seriously harmed.
The three priorities are to reduce reoffending, increase people’s satisfaction with policing and to support neighbourhood policing.
Sex crimes, hate flagged crimes and alcohol-related violence fall under Mr Underhill’s second priority to reduce the number of people seriously harmed in Dorset.
The report said there had been a decrease in overall crime, but highlighted an increase in serious sexual offences.
There were 420 incidents in 2012/13 and this increased to 472 the following year, a 12.4 per cent increase. However, the panel heard that many of the sex crimes related to historic incidents.
A spokesman for Dorset Police said the increase in serious sex crimes was largely due to the Jimmy Savile investigation.
The spokesman said: “This increase is largely due to Operation Yewtree – the Jimmy Savile investigation. For this reason the increase has been seen across the country and not just in Dorset.”
Alcohol-related violent crime has also gone up from 1,902 in 2012 to 13 to 2,275 in 2013 to14, a 19.6 per cent county increase.
Hate incidents have increased by 13.7 per cent, from 255 to 290 incidents in 2013 to 14, while hate flagged crime rose from 59 to 90, a 52 per cent increase. The panel heard that many hate flagged crimes related to disability.
Domestic abuse incidents have also increased to 8,487, 304 more than the year before.
The report also highlighted the areas where priorities had already been met.
There were 2,867 fewer incidents – an 8.9 per cent decrease- in anti-social behaviour and a 16 per cent decrease in vehicle crime, a total of 762 incidents in 2013/14 The number of dwelling burglaries also declined by 9.7 per cent, a total of 184 fewer crimes.
There was also a decrease in the percentage of non-emergency calls answered in 30 seconds from 71.8 per cent to 67.3 per cent.
Under the terms of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martyn Underhill needs to develop and publish a Police and Crime Plan.
The latest figures span a period from April 2013 to March 2014.
Learning curve of PCC
“I’M still learning” were the words of PCC Martyn Underhill in his first annual draft report to the Dorset Police and Crime Panel.
Mr Underhill said: “It is now over 18 months since I was elected PCC. Whilst the role is still new and I am still learning, I am also delighted to have established strong and professional links with the Chief Constable.
“I see the role of PCC as one of facilitating – bringing together different groups, organisations and individuals to identify issues and to find innovative ways to work together to address them.”
The panel praised Mr Underhill for the report but urged him to provide a more detailed, accessible version online for the public to view.
Chief executive Dan Steadman added: “We don’t want to give the impression that we are complacent – we alway want to improve."
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