Crime falls - apart from violent offences

Blackpool's Police operation to prevent rioting gang youths in the town centre

Blackpool's Police operation to prevent rioting gang youths in the town centre

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Crime continues to fall on the Fylde coast – despite concerns over a ‘worrying’ increase in violent crime.

Police welcomed the latest official figures which show the number of recorded offences fell two per cent in Lancashire last year – with the Fylde leading the way.

Total offences in Blackpool in the 12 months up to September were down by three per cent compared to the year before. In Wyre, where there was a sudden spike in offences last year, saw figures fall by 12 per cent.

But the Lancashire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, warned certain types of crime will keep on rising if police officer number continue to fall.

Chairman Rachel Baines said: “We keep seeing increases in the worrying areas of crime. These are the types of offences we should be worried about.”

Violent crime has risen by almost a fifth on the Fylde coast since 2010, including an eight per cent rise over the last year.

However, the figure is largely driven by relatively minor incidents, with Blackpool and Wyre seeing falls in the ‘violence with injury’ category since last year.

In Fylde, there were almost 100 more violent crimes year on year, including an 11 per cent increase in cases where someone was injured.

But with offences falling in most categories, Lancashire Police insisted: “The Fylde is a safe place to live.”

Last year on the Fylde coast there were 650 bike thefts reported, a 20 per cent fall. Domestic burglary fell 15 per cent to 1,036 and the 137 robberies was an 18 per cent reduction.

But there were 114 weapons offences, a 24 per cent rise and theft from the person rose by six per cent to 368 cases.

Sexual offences, which have risen steadily in the wake of a number of high-profile cases including Jimmy Savile and include a large number of historic allegations, were up seven per cent – an increase of 40 cases during the year.

Paulo Pertica, head of visitor services at Blackpool Council, said he believes the introduction of measures including night buses and taxi marshals in Blackpool town centre has had a positive impact on anti-social behaviour.

He told a meeting of Blackpool Council’s tourism, economy and resources scrutiny committee: “Regrettably the number of assaults has increased so it may appear they have not had an impact.

“But there has been a change in the way Lancashire Constabulary records violence against the person. We have experienced the same increase as the whole of Lancashire.

“However serious assaults have reduced by 26.4 per cent and this is people doing things like breaking glasses and smashing them into someone’s face and really causing serious harm. From that point of view the measures have been positive.

“Some assaults were taking place when people were queuing for a taxi and they started an argument.

“So by providing security guards we are helping prevent those arguments.”

Supt Peter Lawson said: “All of West Division that covers Blackpool and the rest of the Fylde coast including Lancaster and Morecambe has seen an increase in all areas of crime since April 2015 of 6.8%.

“This reflects the national picture and is mainly due to increases in lower level violence including violence that results in no injury.

“All violence against the person is up 26.8%, but this is largely explained by changes in recording practices.

“This also indicates where we prioritise our resources towards the crimes that cause most harm to victims.

“The most serious violent crime is actually down 22.6%, but violence that results in no injury is up 34.2%.

“Of course any increase in crime is of concern because protecting the public, especially those who are vulnerable, is what we are here to do.

“However I am confident that West Division and Blackpool continue to be a safe place to live and work.

“We remain committed to working to prevent crime in the first place, but when it does occur we work hard to support victims and bring offenders to justice.

“A great deal of police work these days also includes public safety type incidents dealing with vulnerable people such as missing people and those who need safeguarding for other reasons, but where no crime is involved.”