Concern over rising crime in Essex - but police say it is still a safe place to live and work
PUBLISHED: 19:49 17 October 2019 | UPDATED: 19:49 17 October 2019
Crime levels in Essex have been described as "worrying" and "very concerning" as new figures reveal stalking and harassment have risen by nearly 70% in the past year and drug-related offences are up 40%.
The figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, show there were a total of 162,453 incidents in the year to June 2019, a rise of 17% against an average national rise of 6%.
Incidents of stalking and harassment rose by an alarming 69% to 22,028 reports while drug crime offences were up 39% with 4,608 cases recorded.
There were 60,205 violent offences, a rise of 34%.
Deputy leader of Tendring District Council, Carlo Guglielmi, said: "The level of crime is becoming a very, very concerning issue.
"We work very closely with a number of partners to try and reduce the level of crime but it comes down to funding from central government for more police officers.
"I know we have been told that we will be getting more officers and I hope we see that and that it will help."
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Reassuring residents, Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: "Over the last year we have seen a significant decrease in incidents of ASB, burglary and theft. Essex continues to have a lower level of recorded crime than elsewhere in country and continues to be a comparatively safe county.
"Much of the volume rise is due to newly defined crimes such as controlling and coercive behaviour and stalking and harassment, as well as internet fraud and hate crime. These demand new approaches and new technology to deal with them.
He added: "But we recognise the troubling rise in violent assault."
The commissioner continued: "Essex Police is currently recruiting more than 500 extra officers, the largest ever recruitment programme in the county. With the extra resources we are putting in, it is important that Essex Police, working with its partners, gets ahead of this worrying trend and prevents crime from happening in the first place."
A spokesman for Essex Police said: "Recorded crime here is lower than the average across England and Wales, with fewer people being victims of violence with injury offences, robberies, sexual offences and burglaries.
"We have secured millions of pounds of additional funding to tackle and prevent street violence and knife crime, as well as introducing new Town Centre Teams, and expanding our Rural Engagement Team.
"We have more police officers than we did this time last year, and there are more coming to your area soon."