VIOLENT crime has risen in North Hampshire over the last year, despite an overall drop in recorded offences.

Changes in society while coronavirus restrictions were in place led to most types of crime plummeting nationally over the period – although drug offences rose by nearly a third during lockdown – the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Hampshire Constabulary recorded 9,201 incidents of violent crime in North Hampshire in the 12 months to June, according to the ONS.

That was an increase of 5 per cent compared to the previous year.

At 25 crimes per 1,000 people, that was lower than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 29.5.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "Although crime fell during the pandemic the pressure on the police remained.

"Policing had to adapt to a situation unlike anything we had experienced before and continues to do so even as the national lockdown was lifted and crime returned to pre-lockdown levels.

"That pressure has increased with local lockdowns being rolled out and because of the additional challenges they bring to policing."

One of the main factors behind the increase in North Hampshire was the rise in stalking and harassment, which rose by 26 per cent, from 1,782 incidents to 2,247.

Offences of violence without injury were recorded 3,938 times, an increase of 6 per cent on the previous year, and violence with injury on 3,007 occasions, down by 8 per cent.

There were also two homicides, which include murders and manslaughters, up from none in the previous 12 months.

Overall, police recorded 4 per cent fewer crimes across England and Wales, with around 5.8 million offences recorded in the year to June.

This excludes those recorded by Greater Manchester Police, whose data was compromised after the installation of new IT software.

The fall was driven by a reduction in crime between April and June when national lockdown restrictions were in place. Robberies saw the most noticeable drop during this period (47 per cent), while theft offences fell by 43 per cent.

In contrast, drug crimes soared by 30 per cent over the three months, with offences rising from 44,064 in April to June 2019, to 57,132 this year.

Billy Gazard, from the ONS centre for crime and justice, said the drop in crime over the year could mainly be put down to changes during the coronavirus lockdown, but said police recording of drug offences “increased sharply throughout the April to June period, reflecting proactive police activity as overall crime levels reduced”.

“There are indications that crime levels in June were moving back towards pre-lockdown levels,” he added.

The total number of offences in North Hampshire fell by 2 per cent, with police recording 24,361 crimes over the course of the year.

This puts the overall crime rate at 66.2 per 1,000 people, compared to a national average of 84.7.

Other crimes recorded in North Hampshire included:

  • 799 sexual offences, a decrease of 16 per cent
  • 7,503 theft offences, down 10 per cent
  • 2,720 incidents of criminal damage and arson, down 7 per cent
  • 625 drug offences, down 5 per cent
  • 297 possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, up 8 per cent
  • 2,516 public order offences, up 7 per cent