Crime in Hartlepool has increased more than 16% compared to the same period last year, according to new figures.
Data produced by the Safer Hartlepool Partnership showed that there has been 427 more incidents of crime recorded in Hartlepool between July and September compared to the same period last year - a total of 3,025.
Hartlepool had the second highest rate of crime per 1,000 people in the Cleveland force area, with 33.2 per 1,000, behind Middlesbrough with a rate of 42.5.
There was an almost 50% rise in the number of crimes involving violence against a person, increasing by 298 from 635 to 933.
This includes a rise by 183% in the number of stalking and harassment cases, from 112 last year to 317 for the same period in 2018.
There has also been a 38% increase from 357 to 494 in the number of shoplifting recorded by the police.
This comes after Rachel Parker, council community safety team leader, said earlier this year shoplifting remains the offence of choice for the town’s most prolific offenders.
There has also been an increase of 49 in the number of incidents for possession/use of drugs recorded by police, a rise of 116% from 42 to 91.
Kate Ainger, research officer for Hartlepool Community Safety Team, said: “The figures show a small increase of 16% compared to the same period in 2017, which is the smallest increase across the force area.
“We have seen an increase in harassment and stalking offences, and out of the crimes seven have been for stalking.
“We have also seen an increase in shoplifting and over that period several stores have suffered multiple offences.
“We need to be careful in some cases because it deals with small numbers of people and can mean a big percentage change.”
She said the figures do offer good news for the area in terms of the reduction of offences such as vehicle crime, with incidents dropping by 117, almost 44%.
There has also been a decrease in the number of anti-social behaviour incidents, with a decrease of 354 from the same period last year, dropping 18% from 1,967 to 1,613.
Ms Ainger said: “The more than 40% decrease shows perhaps people are moving away from vehicle crime.
“We also have the 18% decrease in anti-social behaviour which is good news. This is likely due to the hot dry summer this year leading to an increase in the amount of dry material for people to set fire to.”
Cleveland police and crime commissioner Barry Coppinger had previously said they are looking at different solutions to tackle issues such as drug use in the area in the face of cuts.
He said: “I need to say again we have lost 500 police officers and 50 PCSOs since 2010 and 36% of the budget has been cut.
“The home office needs to start spending and stop spinning.”
Community Policing Superintendent Alison Jackson had previously said at the meeting the police remains committed to tackling crime in Hartlepool and making the most efficient use of resources.
She said: “It’s just a matter of deciding where priority area is and listening to the public intel to find out where to focus on.
“We do have some difficult times ahead of us, no doubt about that, but absolutely we will do everything we can in the coming months to improve local and neighbourhood policing structures.”
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service