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‘People reading that would think we live in the Bronx,’ call for more context on Wrexham crime figures

14 Oct 2022 4 minute read
Wrexham guildhall, Wales. As seen from Llwyn Isaf. Wrexham County Borough Council offices. By Rept0n1x (CC 3.0).

Rory Sheehan, Local Democracy Reporter

Councillors have asked for more context to be provided with the publication of crime reporting figures.

At this month’s Wrexham Council Safeguarding, Communities and Wellbeing / Crime and Disorder scrutiny committee, members were given an update by North Wales Police Chief Inspector Helen Douglas.

Insp Douglas outlined how that there had been an increase in reports of crimes in areas such as domestic abuse, which could be explained by the end of pandemic restrictions and better reporting of incidents, from 2020-21 to 2021-22 (up to April).

Cefn Cllr Derek Wright (Lab) pushed for more information to be provided with figures to give people more context.

He gave an example of how members of Cefn Community Council were stunned to see an apparently high number of violent sexual offences in the area reported at one of their meetings earlier this year, without the context that police reporting of such incidents had changed.

Cllr Wright said: “The people reading that would think we live in the Bronx.

“I think if a jump like that happens, with that number there needs to be an explanation to say you’ve changed the way you record figures.

“The general public, if they see those sorts of increases they will want to know why as it might scare them to death.”

Earlier in the meeting Insp Douglas reported that the number of repeat victims of domestic abuse (including non-crime) in Wrexham had risen from 500 in 2020-21 to 679 across 2021-22, citing the end of Covid restrictions as one of the reasons behind the 35.8 per cent increase.

A repeat victim is someone who has been a victim of crime on three or more occasions in the previous 12 months.

In context, there had been a 17.3 per cent increase across the force area as a whole in that same time period.

But there had been a reduction in repeat offenders behind domestic abuse, dropping from 105 in 2020-21 to 96 in 2021-22.

Insp Douglas said: “Statistically, we’re seeing over the last two to three years different crime offences that we can record around controlling and coercive behaviour that we wouldn’t have had a few years ago.

“We’ve got a new offence now around non-fatal strangulation. It’s natural to see an increase in crime because we’ve got different various offences that we are recording against.”

She added: “We did see less reporting during Covid, coming out of Covid now we are seeing increases in reporting.

“I think it’s positive that we’re hearing it as well. We’d like to see a reduction in domestic incidents, but I think it’s positive that we can support individuals, we wouldn’t want it to be hidden and go unreported with people remaining at risk.”

The inspector confirmed alcohol-related offences and crime at licensed premises in the city centre had also increased from 2020-21 to 2021-22.

Hate crime had also risen but there has been a reduction in anti-social behaviour, with the work of the Wrexham Safer Streets initiative praised for having an impact in bringing those figures down.

Insp Douglas added: “I think there’s a lot of work that has taken place, whether Safer Streets is starting to see an impact with the work we’re doing around it that is targeted in reduction.

“I don’t know if there’s one thing we can say has contributed to it (the reduction) because we do so much in the communities across our partnerships to try and make our communities safe – addressing individuals we know are causing us problems around anti-social behaviour, so it’s probably a collective impact on those figures which is positive.”

Insp Douglas said she would feed back Cllr Wright’s request for more context to be provided with statistics to colleagues if officers are unable to attend community meetings in person.

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