Criminals cash in on recession

Sgt Phil Elsden and PC Sharon Birkett on the ANPR day
Sgt Phil Elsden and PC Sharon Birkett on the ANPR day

A rise in robberies and thefts in the past year has been partly blamed on the recession, according to a police chief.

Accepting there were “challenges ahead”, Asst Chief Con Andy Cooke said the 3.6 per cent increase in thefts - equal to 944 more offences - was mostly down to a sharp rise in demand for metal, rather than the effect of police cuts.

But he accepted the recession may also have had an impact on the figures, which also show an increase of 4.4 per cent in robberies.

The Home Office figures, were published as the force continues its attempt to make budget cuts of £42m.

Mr Cooke said: “The rise we have seen could be put down to the rise of metal theft we have seen recently.

“The recession will obviously play a part in some crime but there are wider issues.

“We are targeting that both rurally and in cities.”

Asked about the increase in robberies - equivalent to 30 more crimes - Mr Cooke said: “The difference to the picture nationally is that in Lancashire the increase is down to offences against businesses rather than personal robbery which is actually down.

“I’m glad to say, since the figures were recorded, robbery is now falling again as we have put measures in place to identify and target offenders, such as using ANPR.”

The biggest spike was in sexual offences with 82 more crimes recorded, though police still maintain this is encouraging as it meant more victims were reporting crimes.

Overall county crime rates fell more than the national average, with 5,097 fewer victims of crime from September 2010 to September 2011, compared to the previous 12 months.

Burglaries have fallen by 7.2 per cent, from 4,417 to 4,101 – a reduction of 316.

Vehicle crime was down by 9.1 per cent, from 9,627 to 8,755 meaning 872 fewer victims.

Police also scored a small victory in reducing violent crime, which dropped by 3.7 per cent from 21,906 to 21,092 – a decrease of 814 during the 12 month period.

Lancashire Police Authority’s chairman, Malcolm Doherty OBE, said the continuing decrease in overall crime when significant changes were happening to policing was remarkable. He added: “Lancashire residents are safer as a result of a lot of hard work and the ongoing commitment of the constabulary.”