Rise in violent crime in Buckinghamshire
While the overall number of recorded crimes fell, there has been a massive increase in stalking and harassment offences and a 13% rise in violent crimes in the county
Violent crime has risen in Buckinghamshire over the last year, despite an overall drop in recorded offences.
Thames Valley Police recorded 11,257 incidents of violent crime in Buckinghamshire in the 12 months to March, according to the Office for National Statistics.
That was an increase of 13% compared to the previous year.
At 20.7 crimes per 1,000 people, that was lower than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 29.9.
One of the main factors behind the increase in Buckinghamshire was the rise in stalking and harassment, which rose by 61%, from 2,598 incidents to 4,176.
There were two homicides, which include murders and manslaughters, up from none in the previous 12 months.
Overall, police recorded 13% fewer crimes, excluding fraud, across England and Wales, with around 4.6 million offences in the year to March.
The ONS said the annual drop was helped by a "substantial" fall in crime during April last year, when the first lockdown restrictions were introduced.
The number of recorded crimes increased between July and September, it added, before decreasing again as lockdown measures were imposed toward the end of last year.
However, in March this year, recorded crime was higher than the previous year as the phased exit from lockdown started.
Billy Gazard, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on patterns of crime.
"There were large decreases in theft offences, such as domestic burglary and theft from the person, as more people stayed at home and limited their social contact."
The total number of offences in Buckinghamshire fell by 6%, with police recording 29,834 crimes over the course of the year.
This puts the overall crime rate at 54.8 per 1,000 people, compared to a national average of 77.6.
Other crimes recorded in Buckinghamshire included:
934 sexual offences, a decrease of 6%
9,250 theft offences, down 30%
3,090 incidents of criminal damage and arson, down 14%
1,378 drug offences, up 32%
297 possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, down 4%
2,747 public order offences, up 57%
The ONS figures did show a 28% increase in stalking and harassment offences across England and Wales in the year ending in March, compared to the previous year.
This was driven by an increase in cyber stalking cases during the pandemic, according to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
The trust, which was set up to support victims of stalking following the disappearance of Suzy in 1986, said it had seen a rise in calls to its helpline since March last year.
Violet Alvarez, spokesperson from the trust, said: "We know that domestic abuse has risen drastically during the pandemic, and this is evident in the rise of ex-intimate partner stalking cases that we have seen on the helpline."
She said specialist training across police forces and courts was needed to ensure victims were adequately cared for and understood.