VIOLENT crime has risen in the Braintree district over the last year, despite a decrease in overall recorded crime across England and Wales.
Essex Police recorded 4,751 incidents of violent crime in Braintree in the 12 months to September, according to the Office for National Statistics.
That was an increase of 16 per cent compared to the previous year.
At 31.1 crimes per 1,000 people, that was in line with the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 30.1.
One of the main factors behind the increase in the district was the rise in stalking and harassment, which rose by 18 per cent, from 1,650 incidents to 1,950.
Offences of violence with injury increased by nine per cent and violence without injury by 18 per cent, reaching 995 and 1,802 respectively.
There was one homicide – a category which includes murder and manslaughter. This was the same number as the previous 12 months.
The coronavirus pandemic and related lockdown restrictions have resulted in fluctuations in the level of crime
Overall, police recorded six per cent fewer crimes across England and Wales – there were around 5.7 million offences in the year to September.
The ONS said this was driven by substantial falls in the three months to June, particularly in theft offences.
But separate figures from its Crime Survey for England and Wales show the estimated number of victims of crime in the three months to September were similar to levels seen in the run-up to the pandemic.
Helen Ross, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: “The coronavirus pandemic and related lockdown restrictions have resulted in fluctuations in the level of crime experienced in England and Wales.
“Data from the survey showed decreases in crime at the start of the pandemic, with rises seen over the summer months, specifically in theft, following the easing of lockdown measures, with overall crime now back at pre-lockdown levels of January to March 2020.
“There were also fluctuations in police recorded crime, but total recorded offences for July to September 2020 were below that seen in the same period in 2019.”
The total number of offences in Braintree increased by 3%, with police recording 10,904 crimes over the course of the year.
This puts the overall crime rate at 71.5 per 1,000 people, compared to a national average of 83.5.
Other crimes recorded in Braintree included:
- 342 sexual offences, a rise of one per cent
- 2,852 theft offences, down 17 per cent
- 1,095 incidents of criminal damage and arson, down three per cent
- 375 drug offences, up 37 per cent
- 84 possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, up 11 per cent
- 1,127 public order offences, up 23 per cent
The ONS said an annual three per cent drop in recorded knife crime across England and Wales was largely down to a 22 per cent decrease in April to June. However, this was followed by a sharp increase in the three months to September.
Children’s charity Barnardo’s warned that offences could “erupt” once the latest lockdown is eased.
Chief executive Javed Khan said: “Children and young people have spent months out of school and away from their support networks, leaving many vulnerable to exploitation and control by criminal gangs who have seized on the disruption.
“With rising unemployment and poor job prospects, some young people are finding it hard to believe in a positive future, and see no alternative but to turn to a dangerous way of making money, carrying knives to protect themselves.”