Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya has called for more police officers on the streets to tackle a rise in violent crime in Cambridge.
Figures revealed by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show in 2017 crime in the county rose by 22 per cent compared to 2016. Across England and Wales, crime rose by 15 per cent.
The increase in Cambridgeshire is also the highest in the East of England. Burglary in the county rose by 29 per cent, robbery by 27 per cent and violent offending by 24 per cent.
There was also a significant rise in the number of sexual offences, with a rise of 19 per cent.
After the rise was revealed, Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya said: "“I do not consider the fact that we have lost 20,000 frontline police officers in the UK, including in Peterborough, where we have seen a 17 per cent rise in crime, a coincidence.
“The police force in my constituency continue to do a fantastic job with limited resources, but the implementation of these cuts since 2010 can only be likened to tying their hands behind their backs and asking them to catch.
“In the UK, Cambridgeshire constabulary ranks 33 out of 39 for funding per person it receives.
“This shows that the forces most in need get the least, with local residents paying the price for the cuts.”
She added: “I think we need to focus on the root cause of crime.
“The closure of local services, particularly those used by younger people, needs to be recognised as a reason people are committing crimes.”
North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara said he was concerned by the rise.
He said: “Such a significant increase over such a short period of time simply cannot be ignored.
“We must identify the reasons behind these figures so action can be taken quickly and effectively to ensure local people feel safe in their community. I will be raising the matter with Cambridgeshire Constabulary and the Police and Crime Commissioner to make sure this is addressed as a priority.”
Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite said the force was doing its best to tackle crime. He said: “Although there was a 22 per cent increase in total recorded crime up to December 2017, I want to take this opportunity to reassure people that a great deal of work has been put in by the Constabulary to address these concerns.
“Whilst some of the increases can be put down to changes in recording practices, I am concerned about increasing levels of burglary and violent crime and continue to seek assurance from the Chief Constable about how the force is responding.
“The Local Policing Review, announced in November, already puts in place additional resource to tackle the increase in demand and the pressure it puts on investigations. That, together with the increase in the policing part of the council tax, puts us in a much stronger position to strengthen the frontline to keep people safe and deter more criminals.
“Since December 2017, a number of policing operations have been carried out to target specific criminal groups that has already seen an improvement in detection rates, with some prolific offenders remanded into custody pending court which in turn has seen an impact on overall crime levels.”
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police added: “It is concerning to see a 22 per cent increase in total recorded crime, however about half of the increase can be attributed to changes in recording practices and achieving better compliance with the national standards.
“ We recognise that there are genuine increases in acquisitive crime, such as burglary and theft. “We have already responded to this by strengthening our focus on the small number of
offenders who are committing the majority of the offences.
“We have commenced implementation of a new organisational structure that will put more officers on the frontline and enable us to improve our service and the way we manage our demand.
“These two points, along with the recent council tax precept increase, will result in more officers on the front line and a better service.”
Changes in way crime is recorded has impact
In June last year it was revealed Cambridgeshire police had failed to record thousands of crimes properly. In a report from the HMIC, it was revealed that between March 1, 2016 to
August 31, 2016 inspectors estimated more than 7,000 reported crimes were not recorded properly. The report said: “The 12.2 percent of reported crimes that go unrecorded include serious crimes, such as sexual offences and violence. The recording rate for violent crime is of particular concern at only 80.0 percent.”
Both the Cambridgeshire police spokesman and Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite said changes to the way crime was recorded by police had resulted in the increase in crime across the county. The police spokesman said there were two ways in which the recording of crime had changed since 2016.
He said: “The force has got much better at recording crime and meeting the National Crime Recording Standards.
“We now record incidents as crimes when previously they might have been recorded as anti-social behaviour or simply a suspicious incident.
“The second part is a technical change. “If an out building is burgled, such as a detached garage, it is now recorded as a dwelling burglary, whereas before it would have been recorded as nondwelling. Hence the increase in dwelling burglaries.”