The number of robberies in Hartlepool has more than doubled, according to the latest police recorded crime statistics.
There were 99 robberies between April 2017 and March 2018, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics. These can include muggings, as well as more serious attacks such as hold ups with guns and knives.
That figure is up 115.2% on 2016-17, when 46 incidents were recorded.
The statistics are based on crimes recorded with the police, and the ONS urges caution in interpreting some of these figures.
Some offences go unreported while others may be more numerous due to a change in the focus of the police or greater public attention.
However statisticians said there appears to be a genuine rise in robberies as it is a crime that’s “relatively well-reported by the public and relatively well-recorded by the police”.
Caroline Youell, from the ONS, said: “Most people don’t experience crime. The figures show a fairly stable picture in England and Wales for most crime types. It is too early to say if this is a change to the long-term declining trend.
“We have seen continued increases in some theft offences such as vehicle-related theft and burglary, while computer viruses have fallen.
“There have also been increases in some lower-volume ‘high-harm’ offences such as homicide and knife crime, consistent with rises over the past three years. However, the latest rise in gun crime is much smaller than previously seen.”
Across England and Wales there was a 16% increase in offences with knives or sharp objects and a 12% rise in homicides – murders and manslaughters – excluding charges from the Hillsborough disaster and terror attacks.
Overall, police recorded crime in Hartlepool increased in 2017-18.
During the last year 10,757 crimes were recorded, up by 19% on 2016-17.
That means there was a rate of 116 crimes per 1,000 residents during 2017-18, above the England and Wales average of 82.
Gun and knife possession offences in Hartlepool rose by 20 to 73 incidents.
There have been no homicides, a murder or manslaughter.
Theft, one of the most high volume crimes, has increased by 19%. Drugs related offences dropped by 12.4%.
According to the ONS police numbers are at their lowest level since 1996, when comparable records began, and nearly half of investigations into recorded crimes are closed without a suspect being identified.
Chief Constable Bill Skelly, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “We take rises in crime very seriously. Police forces are targeting crime hotspots, using powers of stop and search and active engagement with communities to prevent violence.
“The causes and drivers of rising violence and related crimes are complex, and so the solutions must focus on early intervention and involve a range of action from government, education, health, social services, housing and victim services.
“To bring down robbery and burglary police target prolific offenders and links to organised crime but we also need the public to help by taking simple crime prevention measures.”
Criminal damage, which includes arson and vandalising cars and houses, has gone down, from 1,626 incidents in 2016-17, to 1,545 in the latest figures.
While violence with injury, which includes assault, GBH and wounding, has risen, this could just be due to improved police recording as opposed to an increase in incidents.
Similarly sexual crime statistics are hard to judge as many more victims are now coming forward due to a series of high profile cases.
In Hartlepool there were 262 incidents recorded in 2017-18, a 38% rise on the previous year, when 190 crimes were reported.
There were also 488 cases of stalking and harassment reported over the same period.
Ché Donald, vice chairman of the Police Federation for England and Wales, commented: “These new figures are proof, as if we even needed it, that policing in the UK is on the critical list.”
Police and Fire Service Minister Nick Hurd said the ONS is clear “that the likelihood of being a victim remains low however, every violent crime is a significant concern and the Government is taking decisive action to tackle it”.
“We recognise that crime is changing and that police demand is becoming increasingly complex,” he continued.
“The statistics show that there has been a societal shift towards victims reporting ‘hidden’ crimes to the police and we welcome that more victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence are feeling empowered to come forward.”
Mr Hurd added that the Serious Violence Strategy was helping turn youngsters away from gangs and violence.