Recorded crime in town shows drop

By Toby Leigh in Crime

Crime fell by almost 16 per cent in Totnes last year – in direct contrast to the rest of Devon where the crime rate rose by almost six per cent.

Violence, sexual offences, burglary, shoplifting, general theft, criminal damage and public order offences were all down in 2016 compared to the previous year, the latest crime figures have revealed.

The trend for the Totnes town area – which includes Follaton but excludes most of Bridgetown – was also in contrast to two rural and urban areas around the town which saw the level of recorded crime shoot up by more than 20 per cent and by almost 15 per cent.

The policing area for Totnes is divided into three areas – Totnes town and two huge swathes of rural South Hams.

One rural area is called Totnes East – an area from Compton in the east up to north of Buckfastleigh. It also includes Broad­hempston, it cuts across the bottom of Bridgetown Hill Berry Pomeroy and incorporates Stoke Gabriel.

Totnes West is an area from Bittaford in the west, to Dartington in the east, Ashprington in the south, out to Halwell and back out to Ugborough on the outskirts of Ivybridge.

While the town area saw an 80 per cent drop in house burglaries, the number of non-dwelling burglaries went up along with vehicle offences and drug possession.

Totnes West saw a 14.7 per cent rise in recorded crime in 2016, with increases in house burglaries, shoplifting, theft, drugs and public order offences.

However, the number of non-dwelling burglaries and vehicles offences went down.

In Totnes East, the increase was even higher at 20.9 per cent, with rises in violence, drug trafficking, criminal damage, burglaries and vehicle offences.

However, violence involving injuries and public order offences were down.

Across Devon and Cornwall, police reported a rise in recorded crime in 2016 of 5.8 per cent – a hike of 4,484 crimes to a 2016 total of 81,949.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Netherton said: ‘Crime figures only represent a minor part of what we as a police force actually do; around 80 per cent of our business in non-crime related.

‘We have one of the highest levels of public confidence of any force across the country, and this means that people feel supported and confident that we will take their crime seriously. ‘

‘The upshot of this confidence from our public, is that we will see a rise in the reporting of certain crime types.

He added: ‘There has also been a number of new laws introduced which will see a rise in crime figures for all forces across the country, not just in Devon and Cornwall.

‘An example of this is the introduction of the Malicious Commun­ications Act, which is responsible for just under half of the increase in total recorded crime in 2016 in Devon and Cornwall, and sits within our “Violence Without Injury” crime group on our figures.

‘Examples of new crimes that fall within this act include abusive and threatening messages sent via social media, phone calls that the victim perceives as threatening in their nature, and even an abusive note left on the windshield of a car for parking in front of someone’s house.’

He also pointed out: ‘We have worked hard as a force to improve our response in a number of key crime areas such as rape, sexual offences, modern slavery and domestic violence. In recent years we have seen a huge rise in both current and historic reporting in these areas, and I am encouraged that victims are finding the courage to come forward and reach out to us knowing that that they will be supported.’

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