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Sex offences continue to rise as figures show overall crime increase in Hampshire and Dorset

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SEX offences continued to increase in Hampshire and Dorset as latest official figures showed a crime rise in both counties.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data for the year ending March 2022 revealed Hampshire’s total recorded crime rate was up 24% from the previous 12 months, while Dorset’s was up 8%.

The average crime rise for forces across England and Wales was 16%.

Dorset Police Chief Constable Scott Chilton
Dorset Police Chief Constable Scott Chilton

Theft-from-person offences accounted for Hampshire's biggest annual increase of 60%, with stalking and harassment up 48% and sex offences up 36%.

Public disorder was up a third in the county, as were violence against the person offences.

Vehicle offences increased by 23%, theft 18%, possession of weapons 12%, and criminal damage and arson 11%.

Drug offences saw Hampshire’s biggest drop, down 10%.

Although celebrating what is now ranked the country's seventh safest area, Dorset Police acknowledged more needed to be done to tackle sex offences, which accounted for its biggest rise (34%).

The county’s other significant increases included public order (20%), robbery (14%), and theft from person (13%).

A 20% rise in violence with injury was included in a 9% increase in violence against the person, along with a 4% rise in those without injury.

Drug offences represented Dorset’s biggest success, being down 20%, while weapon possession fell 10%. There was a 2% drop in burglaries.

Responding to the figures, Dorset Police claimed a rise in crime was “inevitable” as Covid-19 restrictions loosened.

Chief Constable Scott Chilton said: “Looking at the comparisons in data with those recorded pre-Covid-19, this continues to be a positive reflection on our priorities of being tough on crime and bringing offenders to justice.”

But he continued: “I acknowledge that we do face some challenges in other areas, such as sexual offences, which have increased in line with national averages.

“While this is concerning, we recognise this is in part due to the increased confidence of victims choosing to report matters to us, as well as the reporting of many historical crimes.

“We are committed to reducing and preventing sexual offences, including rape, and are working closely with our partners to improve the journey for victims and increase positive outcomes.

“We encourage victims to come forward and report offences so we can support them and safeguard them from future harm.”

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