Increase in serious violent crime in South Gloucestershire
SERIOUS violence increased in South Gloucestershire last year despite a fall in overall crime, the latest figures reveal.
There were 1,352 violent incidents causing injury in 2018/19, equal to 4.8 per 1,000 adults.
That compares with 4.3 over the previous 12 months.
But the level of violence in the area is still low compared to other parts of the country and the Avon & Somerset police area.
And total crime bucked the national trend by dropping from 61 recorded cases per 1,000 population in 2017/18 to 58.7 last year.
The statistics have been revealed in the annual report of the South Gloucestershire Safer and Stronger Communities Strategic Partnership, which includes the police, council, health chiefs and the voluntary sector.
Avon & Somerset police Chief Inspector Ben Moseley told a partnership meeting: “We are seeing a slight increase in violent crime consistent with other areas but we are a significant chunk lower than them.
“We have put a real focus in South Gloucestershire in dealing with organised criminal groups and minimising the impact of county lines criminality.
“County lines is a drugs model that feeds off vulnerable adults and children in the supply of class-A controlled drugs in remote towns, rather than big cities, which controls the supply to towns.
“Our focus has been to identify and support those vulnerable people who are at a very high risk of becoming exploited by county lines criminality, perhaps because of mental illness, drug addiction or having been in prison.”
He said the district’s comparatively low levels of violence was the result of the police working in partnership with other organisations.
South Gloucestershire’s 4.8 incidents per 1,000 adults compares with 7.6 for the wider Avon & Somerset Police area, 8.3 across the South West and 9.3 for England and Wales, according to the annual report.
Chief Insp Moseley said Kingswood had the highest levels of violence in the area, followed by the police beats of Yate & Dodington, Staple Hill & New Cheltenham and Patchway & Cribbs Causeway.
The district’s overall crime rate of 58.7 per 1,000 people compares with 80.7 for Avon & Somerset, 67.8 across the South West and 83.5 nationally.
Chief Insp Moseley said: “We are clearly lower for total crime than the other areas.
“We are bucking the trend here. We are seeing a slight decrease in total crime.
“All the other groups — the South West, Avon & Somerset and England and Wales — are seeing a very steady increase.”
He said criminal damage was also significantly lower than elsewhere.
“Other areas are plateauing but we have seen quite a sharp decrease,” he said.
“Here in South Gloucestershire we have done some really focused work in dealing with antisocial behaviour.
“The bulk of those incidents are criminal damage against motor vehicles, and a significant proportion of those are the products of antisocial behaviour.
“My staff have done lots of bespoke pieces of work throughout the last year.
“We previously had an issue with antisocial behaviour in Thornbury.
“We have dealt with that to a successful end.
“It has returned to a low level of antisocial behaviour and resultant low level of criminal damage.
“In other areas, such as Charlton Hayes, Patchway and Bradley Stoke, we convened multi-agency panels to solve antisocial behaviour.
“The reason we are seeing a dip in criminal damage is because our work has been successful.”
Cases of criminal damage dropped from 8.6 per 1,000 population in 2017/18 to 6.8 last year.
The partnership’s meeting was held at Kingswood Civic Centre on Friday, October 11.
By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service