Police chiefs blame Covid-19 distortion for figures showing crime rise in Peterborough

Comparison with earlier year would have revealed drop in reported crime

Police chiefs say new figures that reveal a 14 per cent rise in crime across Peterborough have been distorted by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

They say the effect of enforced restrictions has skewed the figures which show there were 22,386 offences of all types recorded in Peterborough in the year to March 2022 – up from 19,718 in the previous 12 months, which were the height of the pandemic.

They say that lockdowns and restrictions meant that fewer crimes were reported between March 2020 and March 2021, which makes comparison with the pandemic year unfeasible.

Police say figures that show a 14 per cent increase in reported crime in Peterborough have been distorted by comparison with a year that saw the reporting of crime fall because of lockdowns and restrictions.

But police say if the comparison is made with the 12 months to March 2020 - which is pre-pandemic - then the figures would actually have shown a reduction in crime.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics show there were 842 were sexual offences – an increase of 29 per cent on the year before.

Violent crime has risen across the city up from 7,704 to 8,792 over the same period with this increase driven by a rise in violence with injury, which went up by 24 per cent, from 1,568 incidents to 1,941.

And theft offences rose by 11 per cent, with 6,177 incidents recorded in the 12 months to March.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the figures for Peterborough represent a rate of 110.5 crimes per 1,000 people – higher than the 89.3 rate across England and Wales.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Constabulary said: “While any rise in crime is concerning, it is important to see these statistics in the context of the Covid pandemic and the effect restrictions had on crime.

“This is reflected nationally, where there has been a 16 per cent increase in overall crime levels.

“If the 12 months ending March 2020 was used as the comparison period, to largely remove the impact of the pandemic, data indicates Cambridgeshire would have recorded a year-on-year reduction.

“That said we continue to work hard to tackle violent offences, executing warrants, holding dedicated operations and taking part in national initiatives such as amnesties for knives, firearms and weapons now banned under the Offensive Weapons Act such as knuckledusters, extendable batons, and curved swords.

“And sexual offences remain among our top priorities, as we target offenders and introduce changes to provide a better service to victims.

“While the rise in stalking and harassment is concerning, it is also reassuring that victims of this type of crime have the confidence to come forward in the knowledge they will be treated with compassion and their report taken very seriously and thoroughly investigated.”

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Police and Crime Commissioner Darryl Preston said: “Crime data from 2020 painted an inaccurate picture due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It would be disingenuous to compare 21/22 against the previous reporting year (20/21), a year that saw restrictions and lockdowns due to the pandemic - hence the reduction in reported crime.”

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Crime in Peterborough rises by 14 per cent over a year with the largest increase...