Cities’ crime hotspots slip out of insurers’ burglary hall of shame

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THE cities of Leeds and Bradford may have lost their unwanted tag of being two of the country’s worst burglary hotspots, new figures have revealed today.

Leeds now only has one postcode – the LS16 area covering Adel, Bramhope and Weetwood, – in a national top 20 based on burglary claims made to an insurance comparison site, while Bradford has none.

Last year a total of 10 Leeds and Bradford postcode areas featured in the list compiled by MoneySupermarket, with the LS13 zone covering Bramley and the BD12 area of Low Moor and Wyke ranked worst and second worst respectively. These latest statistics come as official police-recorded crime statistics show a 12 per cent fall in domestic burglary rates and a seven per cent drop in non-domestic burglaries across West Yorkshire.

Chiefs at the West Yorkshire Police hailed a 4.3 per cent fall in overall crime to 163,843 offences in the year to September compared with 171,144 in the previous 12 months.

The accuracy of crime statistics produced by police forces was thrown into doubt last week after they were stripped of an official “gold standard” mark by the statistics watchdog amid mounting concern they were “fiddled”.

Yesterday’s figures are the first to be published since the UK Statistics Authority removed the National Statistics designation from crime data recorded by the police.

The annual burglary claims tracker published today by MoneySupermarket, based on data from 3.1 million home insurance queries in the last year, features only one Yorkshire postcode in its top 20 areas with the highest rate of claims.

LS16 is 18th in the list and its rate of theft claims per 1,000 enquiries to the website by residents is 27.6, some way below the rate of 45.2 in the M21 postcode area of Manchester, which is in top spot.

The LS13 postcode, which last year had the highest number of theft claims with a rate of 34.8 burglary claims per 1,000 enquiries, has now dropped out of the top 20 altogether after the rate fell to 21.6.

The overall rate of contents theft claims per 1,000 claims for the Leeds postcode area fell from 19.5 last year to 16.4.

Kevin Pratt, home insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “Just because somewhere is named a claim hotspot it doesn’t actually mean the area in question is not a nice place to live.

“Thieves often target areas with wealthy residents and desirable properties where the rewards are potentially greater or quieter areas where they think there is less risk of being caught red-handed.”

Despite the drop in overall crime, above the national average, West Yorkshire Police’s overall crime rate of 74 offences per 1,000 people is still the highest outside London.

The number of sex offences recorded by West Yorkshire Police rose by 65 per cent to 2,956 in the year to last September, according to the figures, compared with 1,788 in the previous 12 months.

The increase in recorded offences is the highest in England and Wales, dwarfing the 17 per cent rise seen across the country as a whole and the 39 per cent increase in the Yorkshire region for the same period.

West Yorkshire chief constable Mark Gilmore said the rise was driven partly by “high profile, historic sexual offence cases” such as that of shamed Leeds DJ Jimmy Savile, which have led to more victims coming forward.

Offences recorded by the four Yorkshire and the Humber forces dropped to 356,284 in the year to September 2013 compared with 369,207 in the same period for 2012.

The fall of 3.5 per cent compares with a three per cent decrease for the country as a whole.

In South Yorkshire, recorded crime fell by 3.3 per cent, from 96,326 offences to 93,209, with big reductions in possession of weapons, criminal damage and arson and drug offences. But it also saw rises such as a 27 per cent increase in robberies, which is higher than any other force in the country.