Recorded crime in the Devon and Cornwall Police area decreased 8.7% on the previous 12 months while in England and Wales it reduced by 6.6%, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) said today (Weds, Feb 3).
The force area maintained the second lowest rate of victim-based crime in the country (45.3 per 1,000 residents) and the lowest rate of burglary offences (2.5 per 1,000 people).
Although coronavirus restrictions eased over the summer months, Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez welcomed the fact that fewer crimes had been committed. Nonetheless she said she was concerned about ‘hidden’ crime like domestic violence might be less visible than usual because people had less contact with friends and family.
The quarterly release shows Devon and Cornwall saw a 39% reduction in theft from the person offences, a 26% reduction in vehicle offences, a 25% reduction in theft offences and a 19% reduction in residential burglary for the period.
Fewer vehicle movements and a reduction in calls for help have enabled police to target drug dealers and dangerous offenders, resulting in a 15% increase in possession of weapons and a 1% increase in drug offences.
“Restrictions on people’s freedom, while necessary to protect the most vulnerable in society, have a silver lining in that they have reduced recorded crime,” said Commissioner Alison Hernandez.
“This is a reassuring message from the ONS – it has showed us once again that Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are some of the safest places to live in the country. In our proposed budget for 2021/22 the Chief Constable and I have set out a vision that I hope will build on this position, investing in technology and people to create a force that will do more to prevent crime and provide a more visible and reassuring presence in our communities.”
Commissioner Hernandez said that although a useful barometer, the ONS statistics could not explain the entire picture of offending and the harm caused by it.
“We know that calls to domestic violence helplines have risen significantly because of the pandemic,” she said. “Like some sexual offences, this is an example of a crime type that is out of the public’s view and is likely to be under-reported.
“In Devon and Cornwall I would urge those affected to get in touch with some of the excellent services we have for victims of these crimes. It is of course incumbent on us all to report concerns to police and partners and remain vigilant to suspicions.”
Help and advice is available 24 hours a day from Victim Support online at victimsupport.org.uk or by calling 08 08 16 89 111. The Devon and Cornwall Victim Care Unit is on 01392 475900 or online at victimcaredevonandcornwall.org.uk. Breaches of Covid-19 legislation should be reported online at devon-cornwall.police.uk or, for those who are not online, by using the 101 non emergency telephone line.