Sexual offences rose more than 15% in Devon and Cornwall, crime figures reveal

Police have been tackling crime in Honiton, Axminster and Colyford over the last few days.

The figures show a slight rise in overall crime in Devon and Cornwall - Credit: Mark Atherton

Crimes recorded in Devon and Cornwall increased in the year to September 2021, new figures reveal - including a 15.5% rise in sexual offences.

The latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) crime figures, which detail recorded crimes for the year ending September 2021, show a one per cent increase in recorded crime.

However, 'victim-based crime' has gone down by 0.6 per cent, the figures show.

Public order offences also rose - by 13%.

But the Devon and Cornwall police area continues to have the third lowest crime rate out of the 42 forces in the country.

Deputy Chief Constable at Devon and Cornwall Police, Jim Colwell, said: “I am pleased with the latest crime statistics which are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our officers and staff. 

"We have been able to keep overall crime and victim-based crime low during an unprecedented year where we have continued to face the ongoing challenges of the pandemic and increased numbers of visitors to our region."

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He said the rise in reported sexual offences could 'partly' be down to increased media coverage of crimes against women and girls.
  
"Some aspects of violent crime have risen both in Devon and Cornwall and nationally including sexual offences which have risen by 15.5 per cent," he said. 

"This increase is partly due to the increased media coverage relating to violence against women and girls and our encouragement to victims to report crimes."

On the rise in public order offences, Deputy Chief Constable Colwell said: "The increase can be linked to a general increase in protest and resistance nationally coupled with more staycations and the lifting of Covid restrictions. 

"Acquisitive crime has decreased across the board, they fell during lockdown and have not risen back up to their former level. 

"We experienced a 17.6% fall in robbery and a 25.9% fall in bicycle theft.

"These crime figures highlight to us the areas where we can do better and show us where to best target our resources to combat particular types of crime going forward.

"I would like to acknowledge the support we have had from our communities, especially during 2021 when we helped to successfully stage the G7 Summit in Cornwall and also dealt with the tragic events in Keyham. 

"It is only with the help of the public who continue to look out for each other and report crime and suspicious behaviour that we can keep our region safe for everyone."

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez said: "These figures cover the period when there was justifiable public outrage at the murder of Sarah Everard in London and the trial of the murderer of Lorraine Cox here in Devon and Cornwall. This placed violence against women and girls at the top of the national agenda. 

"If these high-profile cases have caused more women and girls to reflect on incidents and the confidence to come forward to report offences, both recent and historic, then that is to be welcomed. It is good to see that the force remains one of the safest places to live in the country.

"Our plans to reduce violence, help more people live crime-free lives and provide world class services for victims, are designed to make it even safer."