CRIME rates in Gwent fell substantially during the past year – leading the region’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) to declare the area “one of the safest places in the UK”.
The number of police-recorded crimes in Gwent fell by nine per cent in the 12 months ending September 2020, Home Office figures released today, Wednesday, show.
The coronavirus pandemic dominated half of those 12 months, with varying levels of restrictions on leaving home, meeting other people, and visiting retail and hospitality venues.
But there are concerns some crimes, such as domestic abuse, are going unreported.
Gwent Police assistant chief constable (ACC) Ian Roberts said the figures were “encouraging” and thanked the public for supporting the force’s work.
“Throughout the pandemic we have worked to tackle ongoing criminal activity alongside enforcing the new legislation and regulations in a proportionate way,” he added. “We have focused on opportunities to carry out proactive police operations to target the issues that matter most to people living and working in Gwent tackling drugs, thefts and safeguarding the most vulnerable members of our community.”
One of the biggest drop in crime in Gwent was for theft (down 20 per cent) – perhaps unsurprisingly, given the nationwide stay-at-home orders that were in force last spring.
Residential burglaries fell by 10 per cent, and non-residential burglaries by 30 per cent, compared to the previous 12 months. Shoplifting offences also fell, by 19 per cent.
Generally, there were fewer violent crimes (down four per cent) committed in Gwent than in the previous year.
Violent crimes causing injury to victims fell by 10 per cent last year, while sexual offences were down 13 per cent on the previous year.
But offences of stalking and harassment were among the few to rise – up eight per cent on the previous 12 months.
Also increasing in the past year were drug-related crimes (up nine per cent), public order offences (up four per cent), and “miscellaneous crimes against society” (up 16 per cent).
These “miscellaneous” crimes most commonly include the offences of handling stolen goods, making threats to commit criminal damage, and perverting the course of justice.
“Gwent remains one of the safest places to live work and visit in the UK, and I am reassured that this reflects the dedication and determination by Gwent Police to protect our communities,” Gwent’s PCC Jeff Cuthbert said.
“Reported crime has been down across the country since the start of the pandemic, however, we are particularly concerned that crimes such as sexual violence and domestic abuse are going unreported.
“Victims may be trapped at home with their abusers, or afraid that they will be in trouble for breaking Covid restrictions if they come forward.
“I know it may be difficult but if you have been a victim of these crimes I want to reassure you that help is available and I would urge you to speak out. If you don’t want to speak to the police, our partner agencies can also help and support you, and keep you safe.”
Victims can report incidents to Gwent Police by calling 101 (or 999 in an emergency).
New Pathways ([email protected] or phone 01685 379 310) provides rape crisis and sexual abuse support services, and specialist services for child victims of sexual abuse.