Rise in violent crime and abuse

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Violent crime, sexual offences and domestic abuse are all on the rise in Lancaster, according to a new report.

The Lancaster District Community Safety Partnership (CSP) said this reflected both the national and county-wide picture.

The report also revealed that incidents of anti-social behaviour have decreased by 8.8 per cent, from 7,395 to 6,743 incidents, despite an increase of 1.9 per cent across the whole of the county.

Incidents of serious injuries and deaths on our roads have also decreased over the past year.

In 2015/16, there were 2,712 reports of violence against the person recorded across the district, an increase of 18 per cent, or 413 more incidents than in 2014/15.

Reports of sexual offences are up 19.3 per cent, from 228 to 272 over the same period, and domestic abuse is up 14.4 per cent, from 880 to 1,007 recorded incidents.

The Lancaster District CSP – a collective of public, voluntary, community and private organisations who aim to make the district’s communities safer – said that some of the increase in violent crime is due to changes in recording practices, and generally reflected the national picture.

Sexual offences have increased across Lancashire by 31.5 per cent, and all 14 districts are showing an increase, although proportionally – Lancaster has had one of the smallest increases in the county. A report to Lancaster City Council’s overview and scrutiny committee said: “The number of sexual offences where the use of social media/mobile phones for the purpose of contacting the victim and requesting/sending of images has been increasing in recent 
years. Victims are usually under the age of 16.

“Domestic abuse has increased across Lancashire by 18.1 per cent. 87 of the 127 increase relates to domestic assaults, with 44 relating to harassment.”

Road safety figures showed that serious and slight injury to both adults and children had decreased between 2014 and 2015, although there had been one more fatality in 2015/16 than the year before, from four deaths in 2014/15 and five deaths in 2015/16.

Lancaster however had the highest number of road deaths and serious injuries across the county, which has been a trend over recent years, although the numbers have been reducing, the report said.

Reports of hate crime “remained similar” to the year before, according to the CSP report, however there had been 19 reported incidents since June.

In response to whether there has been any increases since the Brexit vote – the report said the number of offences have remained similar, with 35 hate crimes recorded, compared to 31 at the same time last year.

The ethnic breakdown of the victims however showed the majority of victims are White North European.

The report said that none of the offences appear to contain language or statements which suggest they are linked to the vote. The monthly average currently stands at 7 offences per month.

Coun Brendan Hughes, Cabinet member with responsibility for community safety, said: “All organisations and agencies involved in the Lancaster District’s Community Safety Partnership take their role very seriously and as the report shows have been working together positively to look at the best ways in which we can keep local residents and visitors to the area safe.

“What we have seen however, is a significant reduction in the level of antisocial behaviour which makes up by far the greatest number of incidents.

“This is not in common with the rest of Lancashire and is very much attributable to the excellent examples of partnership working and support mechanisms we have put in place.”

Over the last 12 months, the Lancaster District CSP has commissioned, overseen and approved a Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) within the district.

The report is now awaiting approval with the Home Office Quality Assurance panel and will be seen in December 
2016.

The Partnership has also approved £12,000 of funding for domestic abuse targeting projects, and £12,978 of funding for projects targeting other CSP priorities.

A total of £4,600 of CSP funding has also been allocated for hate crime and community cohesion projects.