Northamptonshire crime levels have risen by almost six per cent in the past year with a huge jump in modern slavery, human trafficking and knife crime.
Official figures for the 12 months between December 2018 and November 2019 say that 61,928 crimes were recorded in Northamptonshire.
The biggest increases were in modern slavery and human trafficking crimes which saw a 200 per cent increase on the 12 months previous, with 64 offences recorded. Knife crime also rose by a third with 627 offences recorded – making the county an outlier with significantly higher rates than in other parts of the country.
Child sexual offences also rose by 28 per cent with 1,323 crimes recorded, some of which relate to historic attacks. Recorded rape and sexual offences also rose by 16 per cent with 2,472 offences reported to Northamptonshire Police.
There were slight crime rate drops in drug trafficking offences – with 388 recorded in the past 12 months – as domestic abuse numbers fell by 2.4 per cent and residential burglary rates dropped by 10 per cent with 3,346 crimes reported.
However the resolved rate of all crime was just 12 per cent, meaning that action had been taken against the perpetrator in just 7,431 of the crimes.
A report by the Office of the Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (OPFCC) said: “The force is in line with its most similar forces and has positively resolved 12.5 per cent of all recorded crime in the same period. This is a reducing rate but mirrors the national picture as the force responds to changes in recording rules and focuses on investigations with the greatest lines of enquiry.”
The Northamptonshire police force is run by chief constable Nick Adderley, who took over the top job in August 2018 from predecessor Simon Edens.
The Northamptonshire force was criticised as inadequate in September by a police watchdog but the chief constable insisted that some changes he has made will make the county safer.
Speaking at the police and crime panel held at county hall on Monday (January 6) Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold, whose job is to hold the Northamptonshire Chief Constable to account on behalf of residents, said he believed the force was making progress under the current leadership but was not at the right standard yet.
He said: “I don’t want to let anyone be under any illusion – we are not where we need to be yet. There is a lot of hard work that is being done. Our percentage of police who have been with us for under three years continues to escalate towards the high 40s. That is a high percentage of new talent. The feeling that is being created in Northamptonshire Police is one that attracts. Is that feeling making it’s way down to the public? I don’t think it is.
“I don’t think the quality of service and the outcomes for victims is what I would want to see. Do I think it is getting better? I absolutely do. Is it where I would like to be? No.”
The commissioner, whose post will be up for re-election this May, was not specific but said the force was still not getting some basic things right.
A Northamptonshire Police spokesman pointed to a number of operations and campaigns it had launched to tackle the various crime areas and said Oeration Crooked had helped reduce burglaries by 20 per cent. They also welcomed the rise in sexual crime reporting and said it had been unreported in the past.
They said: “The force’s mission statement is ‘Fighting crime, protecting people.’
“We acknowledge our core purpose of targeting robustly those who choose to commit crime in our communities while acknowledging our need to look after the most vulnerable in society.
“Northamptonshire Police is committed to making this county a hostile place for criminals.”
The crime rise comes alongside a rising county population, at the same time as a decrease in police officers over the past ten years.
The force is hopeful of raising its police officer numbers to 1,500 by March 2023, but has not yet had confirmation of Government funding.