Wiltshire has the lowest recorded crime rate in England and Wales – but this may be a concern.
The area’s PCC says residents do not report crime because they do not have confidence in the police, meaning that many “suffer in silence”.
The force is one of the lowest funded police forces in England and Wales.
According to new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, Wiltshire Police recorded the lowest recorded crimes per head of population of the 42 forces in England and Wales.
In the 12 months leading up to September 2021, Wiltshire recorded 52.7 crimes for every 1000 residents.
There was also a 5 per cent reduction in recorded crime in the period.
However, there was an increase in the reporting of violence without injury, stalking and harassment, sexual offences, public order offences and robbery crimes – though these were still lower than other forces.
Violence without injury, for example, has seen a 5.5 per cent increase in Wiltshire during the period, but is the seventh lowest in the country per head of population.
The ONS report also shows that Wiltshire Police saw an 8 per cent increase in reports of sexual offences, including reports of rape, as well as a 15 per cent increase in possession of weapon offences.
There was also a 12 per cent increase in reported stalking and harassment offences after the force changed the way it recorded offences – but Wiltshire is the second lowest in the country with 5.36 crimes for every 1,000 people, when the average is 10.64 per 1,000.
The area’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) says he is sceptical of the figures, as he has heard from “many residents” that they no longer report crime concerns to the police, as they are not confident that anything will be done.
The PCC says he is concerned that many “suffer in silence”, and he is working to rebuild public confidence in the force.
Philip Wilkinson added: “But it will only improve if resources are allocated to meet demand and we need you to report crime concerns to ensure that we have a complete picture of criminal activity in Wiltshire and officers are deployed to where they’re most needed.
“All reports will be taken seriously, and whilst not all of them may result in immediate action, they will inform the bigger picture allowing community teams to identify patterns of concern and criminal behaviour to keep our villages, towns and city safer.”
Wiltshire Police say they are “cautiously” welcoming the figures.
Superintendent Sarah Robbins said that the force is one of the lowest funded forces in the country, but among the top performing areas when compared with similar forces.
However, she added that “there is still much work to be done”.
She said: “Whilst we accept that not all crime is reported, we have been working hard to encourage community engagement and trust with our officers in order to reach out to victims.
“In Wiltshire Police there is a culture of duty and professionalism that runs like a thread through everything we do – I am immensely proud of what we have achieved and continue to build upon.”
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