THE latest crime statistics have revealed a fall in offences in Dorset for the fourth consecutive quarter.

The county has seen a drop of 9.3 per cent in the year to the end of December.

But despite some impressive reductions in numbers, a few offences have continued to rise.

With most of the year spent in lockdown the pattern of offending has changed.

And offences of stalking and harassment have rocketed by 11 per cent to 5,648 crimes.

Public order offences have also risen to 3,403 offences over the year and there were 1,201 offences of bike theft, 47 more than the previous year.

But the overall trend is downwards with all other types of crimes recording a fall.

Theft fell by a whopping 21.5 per cent and vehicle crime reducing by 14 per cent.

The breakdown is as follows with 2019 figures in brackets, offences in bold have increased:

  • Violence against the person: 19,119 (19,766)
  • Homicide: 7 (2)
  • Violence with injury: 5,564 (6,296)
  • Violence without injury: 7,899 (8,396)
  • Stalking and harassment: 5,648 (5,067)
  • Death or serious injury - unlawful driving: 1 (5)
  • Sex offences: 1,826 (2,079)
  • Robbery: 378 (386)
  • Theft: 15,640 (19,014)
  • Burglary: 3,102 (3,901)
  • Burglary residential: 1,824 (2,127)
  • Burglary non-residential: 1,278 (1,774)
  • Vehicle crime: 3,889 (4,422)
  • Theft from person: 338 (499)
  • Bike theft: 1,201 (1,154)
  • Shoplifting: 2,757 (3,436)
  • Other theft: 4,353 (5,602)
  • Criminal damage and arson: 6,659 (7,173)
  • Drugs: 1,382 (1,572)
  • Possession of weapons: 334 (376)
  • Public order offences: 3,403 (3,352)
  • Miscellaneous: 610 (678)

Figures are also available on the number of selected serious offences which involved a knife. Across the county last year this was three per cent up on 2019 and it has risen a staggering 62 per cent since 2011.

Focusing specifically on firearms, excluding air weapons, there 51 offences in 2020 compared to 34 the previous year. The figure for last year was the highest recorded over the past 10 years.

The increase in stalking and harassment offences in Dorset mirrored a national picture, with a 22 per cent increase year on year.

Dorset Police has previously said increases in bike theft have been seen since the implementation of the Beryl bike hire scheme across the BCP Council area.

In early 2020 Dorset Police received a ‘Good’ grading from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) for accurate crime recording.

This grading means the reduction of 9.3 per cent during the 12 months to the end of December 2020 places Dorset with the ninth-lowest crime rate in England and Wales.

A spokesman for the force said it has analysed the data and added: "Dorset Police recognises the impact of Covid-19 and the impact the lockdown periods had on the reduction of some crime types.

"However policing the pandemic also raised wider policing challenges, which the Force responded to, along with maintaining a strong focus on the crimes that affect the most vulnerable members of our communities, for example child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse and county lines."

The latest figures also show that compared to the national data, Dorset saw a reduction in violence against the person offences – a reduction of 3.3 per cent in Dorset compared to an increase nationally of 1.9 per cent. Similarly, the Force experienced a reduction in sexual offences of 12.2 per cent, compared to a reduction of 7.3 per cent nationally.

Deputy Chief Constable Scott Chilton said Dorset remains one of the safest counties in the country to live and visit. It has the ninth lowest crime rate of the 43 forces in England and Wales.

He added: "2020 was a challenging year for everyone, and officers and staff worked hard to meet the new challenges of policing the pandemic whilst also maintaining a visible police presence, reducing and investigating crime, safeguarding the vulnerable and working with local communities to keep them safe.

"We will maintain our focus on providing outstanding service to the people of Dorset, particularly those who are most vulnerable."

The total number of crimes reported fell from 54,388 to 49,351 over the 12 months, reducing 6.5 crimes per 1,000 population.

The Daily Echo asked Dorset Police to comment on the increase in stalking and harassment, knives in serious offences and firearms offences. The force is yet to respond to these questions.