'Disturbing' rise in violent crime in Sunderland - with 18% hike in weapon possession offences also recorded
Spikes in violent crime across Sunderland have sparked concerns as new police statistics for the city were revealed to councillors.
In 2018/19, overall crime increased by 3% with 1,035 more offences than the previous year.
The rise was mainly linked to a 11% rise, or extra 694 offences, in the ‘violence against the person without injury’ category.
This includes offences such as common assaults or threats to kill.
Other spikes that affected the data included a 13% rise in public disorder offences – an extra 600 compared to last year.
Northumbria Police bosses have previously said data is unlikely to reflect real rises in crime due to changes in crime recording and policing activity.
They added increased numbers of recorded crimes could also be linked to victims having more confidence to report incidents to the police.
At a recent meeting of Sunderland City Council’s Scrutiny Co-ordinating Committee, councillors zoned in on violent crime issues.
In 2018/19, levels of violent crime rose by 8% – equating to 791 more offences.
This includes sub categories of violence against the person, robbery, sexual offences and possession of weapons.
Violence against the person with injury rose by 10% – equating to an extra 16 offences.
While possession of weapons offences increased by 18% – an 48 extra offences compared to last year.
Coun Darryl Dixon described the increases in serious crime as “disturbing” and raised concerns about consistent rises over the years.
He told the meeting: “There’s always an underlying number of offences which haven’t changed such as offences to the person where injury is the result of violence.
“Once again for the eighth year in a row I have seen, it’s actually gone up by 10% again, so there is a disturbing increase in the level of more serious crime.
“I certainly attribute that in part to the lack of support police get and I do think you do a fantastic job.
“Underlying figures like that have not changed and I always point to that one figure each year which doesn’t change in the way that we record it.
“That’s violence with serious injury or violence with injury and it goes up and up year on year.
“For me that’s an indicator of the city and what’s happening out there.”
Superintendent, Barrie Joisce, of Northumbria Police, told the meeting levels of “stranger violence” remain low in the city.
He added work is taking place to prevent violent crime, including a mixture of enforcement, prevention and engagement with communities.
This includes schemes with young people to prevent gang-related violence and knife crime.
Supt Joisce added: “I think we’re at the point now with the crime recording standards where they’re embedded and from this year onwards, I think we have plateaued in terms of what is the norm and baseline to measure against.
“In terms of violence, it probably is one of those things that has been dramatically affected by the crime recording.
“Things that in the past which might have been dealt with as an incident, such as verbal threats for example, now will become a crime.”
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Lead Policy Officer for Community Safety on the council, Stuart Douglass, added Northumbria Police was now compliant with reporting standards.
“I think any comparative from now, if there are rises we need to look at why and it’s not necessarily down to changing the goalposts or changing the practice of how you statistically record the crime,” he said.
“It’s still not fully compliant in some force areas, in 2010 or 2011 you could compare how a city like Sunderland looked against a similar make-up city on a range of measures including crime.
“We’re still not in that position to compare with other areas, but at least within Northumbria we’re pretty certain those standards are where they want them to be.”
Sunderland Crime 2018/19 rises on previous year.
Violent crime +8% (791 more offences)
Robbery +3% (4 more offences)
Sexual Offences +11% (96 more offences)
Vehicle Crime -2% (48 fewer offences)
Burglary – 3 more offences
Criminal Damage +1% (65 more offences)
Drug Crime +5% (26 more offences)
Other Crime +2% (198 more offences)
Public Order: +13% (600 more offences)
Serious Acquisitive Crime: -4% (136 fewer offences)
Racially and Religiously-aggravated Crime: –16% (46 fewer offences)
Overall increases in crime, Northumbria Force area.
:: Northumbria +6%
:: South Tyneside +7%;
:: Gateshead +4%;
:: North Tyneside +11%;
:: Newcastle +7%;
:: Northumberland +3%;
:: Sunderland +3%