Rank and file police officers have hit back at allegations of scaremongering after figures show violence and sex crimes in Lancashire are on the increase, while budget cuts make the thin blue line even thinner.
The county was rated as a more violent place than Merseyside, South Yorkshire, South Wales and the North East in 2014 according to the Office for National Statistics.
Almost 21,000 violent attacks were recorded by Lancashire Constabulary during the calendar year - an 8.5 per cent rise on the previous 12 months.
There were also 1,918 sexual offences reported - an increase of three per cent on 2013 and the equivalent of almost six a day.
Overall crime in Lancashire fell by around one per cent to 93,352 offences logged, at a time when savage police cuts have cost around 700 officer jobs and a further 500 staff.
“Crime may have fallen overall in Lancashire, but we are seeing rises in some serious crime categories, for example burglary, violent crime and sexual offences,” said Rachel Baines, chair of the Police Federation in the county.
Crime may have fallen overall in Lancashire, but we are seeing rises in some serious crime categories, for example burglary, violent crime and sexual offencesRachel Baines
“Other crime categories that are on the rise include cybercrime, which does not even appear in official statistics.
“The Police Federation has been accused of scaremongering. However, we feel we have an ethical duty to inform the public about the level and scale of these cuts and the consequences. Numbers do matter.”
Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw will reveal the latest statistics for 2014/15 on Thursday. They are expected to show similar trends to the ONC figures for 2014.
In a statement to the Police and Crime Panel AGM Mr Grunshaw has already revealed Thursday’s numbers will be up for sex crimes, even though overall crime figures are down by 2.9 per cent for the year to March 31.
“The reduction in crime of 2.9 per cent this year means an overall fall of 5.6 per cent since I came into office, which is obviously good news and shows a good picture for Lancashire,” he said.
“While I welcome this, there are clearly some areas where there has been an increase and this is worrying both to myself and members of the panel.
“There are increases in the number of sexual offences - particularly rape cases - and this is undoubtedly linked to reporting of crimes that have taken place in the past and also as a direct result of our efforts to raise awareness of sexual exploitation and grooming.
“However this increase does worry me, especially in the light of the continuing financial pressures we face.”
The 2014 statistics show that of the 93,000 offences recorded in the county during the calendar year, around one in four was either a violent or sexual crime.
Next door in Merseyside there were 97,350 alleged crimes reported overall - 4,000 more than in Lancashire. But cases of violence against the person totalled 16,896 and sexual offences 1,864 - both around 37 per cent up, but still lower than the Red Rose county.
Cumbria, Cheshire and North Wales also logged less than Lancashire’s totals.
Further statistics released by Police.UK show around one in six of all crimes reported in Preston city centre involves either violence or a sexual offence.
In April this year 53 of the 320 recorded crimes were in those categories. Yet, overall, offences reported were down in each of the previous 12 months.
Rachel Baines added: “The vast majority of incidents that the police deal with do not generate a crime number in any event. Almost 80 per cent of what we deal with is non-crime related, like missing from homes, policing football matches, incidents relating to mental health, to name but a few.
“The Home Office says we have enough resources to do the job. But they need to understand the demands placed on the police before deciding how much more will be cut from the policing budget.
“With 85 per cent of the police budget being spent on staff wages, the more cuts we see the larger the loss of police officers and staff.”