Crime in Bristol falls to an all time low
CRIME in Bristol has fallen to an all-time low.
For the first time since comprehensive records of offences were kept in the late Eighties, fewer than 50,000 crimes were reported in the city in 2011/12.
But there have been notable increases in the number of sexual offences, which was up 7.5 per cent, and drug crime (possession, supply and production of drugs), up 10.6 per cent.
In total there were 47,462 crimes during the year up to March 31, 3,133 fewer than in 2010/11 (-6.2 per cent). The figures relate to the Bristol City Council area.
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Most categories saw significant reductions, including burglary, which fell by a quarter, violent crime (-8.1 per cent) and robbery (-9.5 per cent). Thefts of, and from, motor vehicles went down by ten per cent and 13 per cent respectively.
Despite two riots in the Stokes Croft area last April, and more disorder in Bristol last August, criminal damage and public disorder both fell year-on-year.
Assistant Chief Constable John Long, Bristol's district commander, told the Post: "2011/12 was a busy year for the force, with some very significant events in terms of policing. With the back drop of a recession, there were fears that it could have had an effect on crime rates.
"However, we have continued to see reductions in recorded crime and it's the first time we've broken through the 50,000 barrier, which I think is a significant milestone for the city of Bristol.
"A decade ago, Bristol was the worst of England's eight core cities for acquisitive (theft, robbery or burglary) crime. Now the city is second best.
"It would be disingenuous to say all the reductions, particularly in acquisitive crime, are entirely down to the police."
Mr Long cited factors including improved education in the city and schemes such as Impact, which involves the likes of the police, probation, prison service, council and drug workers managing prolific offenders together.
He added: "We do think one of our most successful strategies has been Impact – on a national level that approach is now considered best practice."
In terms of the crime categories that have seen increases, Mr Long said: "Obviously, we believe every sexual offence is one too many, but the statistics are indicative or a greater preparedness for victims to come forward and tell us what's happened to them. Our Operation Bluestone, The Bridge service in Bristol and the help of independent sexual violence advisers have all been significant in this area.
"While the number of recorded sexual offences has gone up, our detection rates have improved significantly in recent years, and are now at 49.6 per cent."
In terms of drug crime, Mr Long said increases in recorded offences actually reflected more successful busts and raids from teams such as Operation Beacon, which target dealers in Bristol.
With Avon and Somerset police feeling the pinch from Government funding cuts, and a recruitment freeze meaning the constabulary has shed more than 150 officers in the last 18 months, times are tough. But Mr Long is still optimistic the downward crime trend can continue.
"Even with all of the issues that people, and the constabulary, are facing at the moment, we are still feeling very positive about the year ahead and are committed to keeping our front-line and neighbourhood policing teams as strong as possible.
"With the way we work with offenders, the technologies we have available and effective partnership working, we still think we can the number of crime victims in Bristol."
Figures for 2011/12:
Burglary: 2,794 - down by 24.8% on 2010/11
Theft of motor vehicle: 1,110 down by 10% on 2010/11
Theft from motor vehicle: 3,132 - down by 13% on 2010/11
Violent crime including robbery: 11,834 - down by 8.1% on 2010/11
Sexual offences: 819 up by 7.5% on 2010/11
Most serious violent crime: 289 - down by 6.2% on 2010/11
Murder: 4 - down from 7 the previous year
Racial and religiious aggravated crime: 577 - down by 9.1% on 2010/11
Drug offences: 2,891 - up 10.6% on 2010/11
Criminal damage: 6,748 - down by 9.5% on 2010/11
Public disorder: 1,927 - down by 14% on 2010/11
Totakl crime (Bristol district): 47,462 - down from 50,595 in 2010/11