Violent crime on the rise in Bedford - particularly stalking and harassment
The number of reports in the town rose by 27 per cent
Violent crime has risen in Bedford over the last year, despite an overall drop in recorded offences.
Bedfordshire Police recorded 5,083 incidents of violent crime in Bedford in the 12 months to June, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
That was an increase of 10 per cent compared to the previous year.
One of the main factors behind the increase in Bedford was the rise in stalking and harassment, which rose by 27 per cent, from 1,265 incidents to 1,602.
Detective Inspector Katherine Rivers, the force’s lead on stalking and harassment, said: “We have recorded a large increase of reports of stalking and harassment. This increase was linked to a number of factors, including the victims are feeling more confident in coming forward.
“Our force is constantly improving its response to stalking and harassment, and has invested in training to be able to best support victims of this type of crime. We are also working with our partners to increase the awareness and understanding of this behaviour across our communities.
"We now have a number of powers to support them throughout the process, including Stalking Protection Orders, which are a civil order, which can be put in place in the early stages of the investigation to protect the victim.”
Offences of violence with injury increased by 2 per cent and violence without injury by 5 per cent, reaching 1,251 and 2,225 respectively.
Detective Chief Inspector Aaron Kiff, the head of Boson, said: “We have made huge strides over the past 12 months in tackling violent crime, targeting knife and gun crime as well as gangs and organised criminal activity.
“Recorded incidents of serious youth violence fell by 24 per cent in Bedfordshire in the 12 months to April 2021 compared to the same timeframe to April 2019.
“While the pandemic has played a big part in a drop of this scale, serious youth violence had reduced significantly year-on-year just prior to the first national lockdown, after a number of investments by government for enforcement activity, as well as funding prevention and diversion projects for young people.
“Boson, our dedicated guns and gangs team, carries out regular patrols in locations identified as hotspots for drug dealing and gang activity. These patrols act as a deterrent and engage with young people about gang issues, but also help secure a number of results.
“We are also one of 18 police forces to be awarded extra funding to run further high visibility foot patrols in affected areas in a bid to tackle serious violence. The results have shown a 25 per cent reduction in the number and severity of crimes on the days that patrols took place."
Other crimes recorded in Bedford included:
429 sexual offences, a slight increase on the previous year
4,779 theft offences, down 18 per cent
1,409 incidents of criminal damage and arson, down 6 per cent
439 drug offences, down 10 per cent
101 possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, up 35 per cent
1,550 public order offences, up 13 per cent