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Our area is still the safest place in the country

Last modified: 14 May 2021 at 11:42am

North Yorkshire remains the safest place in England and Wales, new figures have confirmed.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) “Crime in England and Wales: year ending December 2020” release shows a crime rate of just 49.9 per 1,000 people – the lowest rate in the country, and far below the national rate of 80.8.

North Yorkshire is the only police force area in the country that had a crime rate below 50 per 1,000 population last year.

Overall, total recorded crime in North Yorkshire and York fell by 13 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019. Across England and Wales, the decrease was 10 per cent.

According to the ONS, there were fluctuations in the level of crime throughout 2020, the majority of which can be attributed to the introduction and easing of national lockdown restrictions.

Broken down into the main crime categories, the ONS figures for North Yorkshire show decreases in recorded crime compared to 2019, including:

  • Sexual offences decreased by 18 per cent
  • Robbery decreased by 12 per cent
  • Theft offences decreased by 31 per cent, including a 35 per cent fall in burglary and a 16 per cent fall in bicycle theft
  • Criminal damage and arson decreased by 9 per cent

Violence against the person decreased by 2 per cent in North Yorkshire. This includes a 9 per cent fall in violence with injury, a 7 per cent fall in violence without injury, and a 17 per cent increase in stalking and harassment. This increase can be attributed in part to victims having increased confidence in reporting it, as well as changes to recording requirements. (Nationally, violence against the person increased by 2 per cent over the same period – stalking and harassment increased by 22 per cent).

Some other crime types in North Yorkshire increased in 2020, including:

  • Drug offences increased by 11 per cent
  • Possession of weapons offences increased by 28 per cent
  • Public order offences increased by 12 per cent

The increase in drugs and possession of weapons offences – which are defined as ‘crimes against society’, rather than victim-based crime – reflects the force’s proactive approach to dealing with issues such as county lines and knife crime. These crimes continue to cause a disproportionate amount of fear and harm in local communities, and remain a priority for North Yorkshire Police.

Chief Constable Lisa Winward, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “2020 was an extremely challenging year, but exceptional situations call for an exceptional response – and officers, staff and volunteers across the force have shown a level of commitment, professionalism and diligence that is nothing short of incredible.

“Clearly, national lockdown restrictions had a significant effect on levels of crime throughout last year, but it’s encouraging to know that our area remains the safest place in the country. We couldn’t have achieved this without the confidence of the people we serve, and I’m so grateful that our communities have been overwhelmingly supportive of our work during these difficult times.

“It’s very likely that levels of crime will fluctuate as national restrictions ease, but we will never be complacent, and will continue to work hard to meet the challenges we face, ensuring victims remain at the centre of everything we do.”

North Yorkshire Police Fire and Crime Commissioner Philip Allott said: “These figures confirm that North Yorkshire and York remains the safest place in England and Wales and I thank our police officers and staff for their efforts in such challenging times to ensure that record continues.

“The reduction in overall crime is, of course, welcome but the detail confirms there are serious issues we need to think about the best way of addressing. Stalking and harassment reports are up, as are drug offences, and these are two areas I am determined to ensure are tackled as a priority.

“My Police, Crime and Fire Plan will develop our approach on these issues, alongside the Chief Constable. We need to ensure people have the confidence to report offences and know action will be taken, and we need to ensure the most vulnerable in our communities are protected.”

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