CRIME increased by more than 10 per cent in Poole last year, according to the latest police figures.

Office of National Statistics (ONS) data shows there were 9,676 reported offences between April 2017 and March this year.

This is a rise of 11.4 per cent on the previous year, when 8,683 incidents were recorded.

There was a rate of 64 crimes per 1,000 residents during 2017-18, however this is below the England and Wales average of 82, and the rate for neighbouring Bournemouth of 94.

Caroline Youell, from the ONS, said: “Most people don’t experience crime. The figures show a fairly stable picture in England and Wales for most crime types.

“It is too early to say if this is a change to the long-term declining trend.

“We have seen continued increases in some theft offences such as vehicle-related theft and burglary, while computer viruses have fallen.

“There have also been increases in some lower-volume ‘high-harm’ offences such as homicide and knife crime, consistent with rises over the past three years.

“However, the latest rise in gun crime is much smaller than previously seen.”

The ONS believes crimes such as burglary and car theft, which are generally well reported and recorded, have genuinely increased, but has urged caution around some of the data.

Poole saw criminal damage including arson and vandalism rise from 1,203 incidents in 2016-17, to 1,346 in the latest figures.

Gun and knife possession rose by six to 53 incidents.

There were 583 residential burglaries reported in 2017-18. Due to a change in how the ONS categorises burglaries, the localised figures cannot be compared with other years.

Sexual crime statistics are hard to judge as many more victims are now coming forward due to high profile cases in the media.

In Poole there were 309 incidents recorded in 2017-18, a 21 per cent rise on the previous year, when 256 crimes were reported.

There were also 455 cases of stalking and harassment reported over the same period.

On the other hand, Poole saw no homicides last year, and theft offences decreased by one per cent, drug offences by more than 10 per cent.

According to the ONS police numbers are at their lowest level since 1996, when comparable records began, and nearly half of investigations into recorded crimes are closed without a suspect being identified.

Ché Donald, vice-chairman of the Police Federation for England and Wales, said: "These new figures are proof, as if we even needed it, that policing in the UK is on the critical list."