Falls in car crime, burglaries and damage - but sex cases and assaults are up

COMMISSIONER: Ron Hogg

COMMISSIONER: Ron Hogg

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A FALL in car crime, burglaries and damage has helped a force keep its figures level after a hike in the number of historic sex cases and assaults were reported.

Durham Constabulary handled 32,953 offences in the year leading up to the last day of March.

It says this is a “notional rise” of less than one per cent compared to the previous 12 months, when 32,751 were logged.

The force’s leaders say this was despite a significant number of historical sexual and physical assaults being logged as part of Operation Seabrook, the largest investigation of its kind in the UK.

It is looking into allegations of abuse at the former Medomsley Detention Centre, which saw teenagers serve short periods as part of their punishment for minor crimes.

It also says that in the last year, there were “encouraging falls” in reports of theft from a motor vehicle – down 31 per cent from 2,629 to 1,828 – burglaries, which fell by eight per cent, from 4,283 to 3,925, and criminal damage and arson, which fell by three per cent from 6,938 to 6,714.

However, there was an 14 per cent rise in sex offences and a 27 per cent rise in reports of violence against the person, with offences in this category up from 5,152 to 6,536.

While the rise in sexual offences is seen as a sign more victims are prepared to come forward, police say the surge in the category, and violent offences, is largely due to changes how they are recorded.

Last year a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary into the integrity of crime recording found variations across forces in terms of how certain offences were categorised.

Nationally, forces have now adopted a more rigorous approach to recording certain offences such as ‘violent’ or as ‘sexual offences’ to align with the recommendations.

Durham’s Assistant Chief Constable Dave Orford said: “Our staff have worked extremely hard this year to ensure that people of County Durham and Darlington continue to live in one of the safest places in the country.

“We are so proud that we give support to our victims and also proud of the reduction in crime.”

Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg said: “County Durham and Darlington remains as one of the safest places in the country to live, work and visit.”