Great Britain

Drug offences soar by 39 per cent in Bradford - but overall crime falls across the district

Crime has fallen over the last year in Bradford - but drug offences soared by 39 per cent, official police records reveal.

Changes in society while coronavirus restrictions were in place led to most types of crime plummeting over the period – the Office for National Statistics said.

West Yorkshire Police recorded 70,301 offences in Bradford in the 12 months to June, according to the ONS.

That was a decrease of 6% compared to the previous year, when there were 75,176.

At 130 crimes per 1,000 people, that was far higher than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 85.

Details of the rise in drug offences emerged in a week when a judge warned that residents in Bradford East are worried that their children will be groomed to join in the drug trafficking.

Recorder Margia Mostafa stated that many teachers in the area felt insecure, with staff at one primary school carrying phones and whistles and leaving before nightfall. Pupils at schools in the district told a community impact survey that drug dealing was the worst problem they identified in the area.

Crimes recorded in Bradford included:

  • 2,027 sexual offences, a decrease of 15%
  • 28,171 violent offences, a decrease of 2%
  • 7,276 incidents of criminal damage and arson, down 9%
  • 2,543 drug offences, up 39%
  • 507 possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, down 6%
  • 8,250 public order offences, up 9%
  • 18,637 theft offences, down 19%

Across West Yorkshire in general, recorded crime also fell with a 6.9 per cent reduction in offences - around 20,200 victims.

Overall, police recorded 4% fewer crimes across England and Wales, with around 5.8 million offences recorded in the year to June.

This excludes those recorded by Greater Manchester Police, whose data was compromised after the installation of new IT software.

The fall was driven by a reduction in crime between April and June when national lockdown restrictions were in place. Robberies saw the most noticeable drop during this period (47%), while theft offences fell by 43%.

In contrast, drug crimes soared by 30% over the three months, with offences rising from 44,064 in April to June 2019, to 57,132 this year.

Billy Gazard, from the ONS centre for crime and justice, said the drop in crime over the year could mainly be put down to changes during the coronavirus lockdown, but said police recording of drug offences “increased sharply throughout the April to June period, reflecting proactive police activity as overall crime levels reduced”.

“There are indications that crime levels in June were moving back towards pre-lockdown levels,” he added.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "Although crime fell during the pandemic the pressure on the police remained.

"Policing had to adapt to a situation unlike anything we had experienced before and continues to do so even as the national lockdown was lifted and crime returned to pre-lockdown levels.

"That pressure has increased with local lockdowns being rolled out and because of the additional challenges they bring to policing."

West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable John Robins QPM said: “This news is really heartening and testament to the hard work and dedication of all our officers, staff and volunteers as well as our partners.

“West Yorkshire Police has worked really hard in recent years to ensure that crime is recorded accurately and appropriately so that we can properly understand the demands we face enabling us to deploy and prioritise our resources to ensure the maximum possible impact.

“Never has that been more crucial when you consider the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic continuing to impact on us all.”

Tackling serious violent crime, including knife crime, is a priority for the Force and under Operation Jemlock some impressive results have been delivered with 3,706 arrests and 422 offensive weapons being seized. Knife crime is down 13% with 329 fewer victims.

Mr Robins added: “We continue to ensure that our response to crime is focused upon victims, witnesses and the most vulnerable people in our communities. I can reassure our local communities we will continue to do all we can to keep them safe and feeling safer.”

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