Yorkshire stays burglars’ top target

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WEST Yorkshire remains the country’s burglary hot spot in the latest crime statistics released by the Home Office.

Yorkshire and the Humber also recorded the highest regional average for burglaries in the 12 months to the end of June.

There were 16 burglaries per 1,000 population in West Yorkshire – which had the highest figures in the previous set of statistics – with the figures for South Yorkshire and Humberside at 12 and 13 respectively.

North Yorkshire reported only seven per thousand but Yorkshire’s average of 13 was comfortably above the England-wide average of 10.

West Yorkshire Police assistant chief constable John Parkinson pointed to more recent figures suggesting an improvement.

He said: “Our continuing work to reduce burglary paid off, with over 300 fewer victims reported between April and September this year compared with the same period last year. The force focuses its efforts to ensure burglary remains the number one priority as we approach the winter months. There are some other crimes, such as metal theft, which have increased, so there is no sense of complacency whatsoever.”

The region’s forces also highlighted overall falls in crime in the latest set of statistics as evidence of continuing improved performance, though North Yorkshire did record a 20 per cent increase in drug offences and 10 per rise in fraud and forgery cases.

A force spokesman said the statistical spikes related to specific operations targeting drug dealers in Selby and a company director who accounted for 137 offences.

West Yorkshire Police Authority chairman Mark Burns-Williamson also added a note of caution over the potential effect of major spending cuts.

He said: “It is still early days in relation to being able to see if there has been an impact on performance as a result of the cuts, announced by the Home Office, that the police authority and force are having to implement during this and the next three years. Authority members will monitor performance very closely over the next year to ensure that any signs of declining performance are assessed quickly and acted upon wherever possible.”

Nationally the figures showed knifepoint robberies rose by seven per cent in the last year as thieves went after mobile phones which can be sold for up to double their value on the black market abroad.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said the rise in robberies was a “cause for concern”, while the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, warned the Government must reconsider its cuts to police budgets.

National statistics also showed that the easing of the falling levels of overall crime has continued after sustained reductions since the mid-1990s.

Police forces in England and Wales recorded 14,980 robberies involving knives in the 12 months to June, up from 13,994 the previous year.

The Acpo lead on crime, Jon Murphy, said: “While there were falls in most police-recorded crime and particularly in violence against the person, the increase in robbery and robbery with knives is a cause for concern.

“We believe this is in part driven by demand for mobile phone handsets, which can fetch more than double their worth on the black market abroad.”

Along with the rise in the number of robberies involving knives, the overall number of robberies also rose by three per cent, up to 76,786 from 74,887, the figures showed.

But the number of victims killed with knives remained broadly the same at 205, compared with 206 the previous year, and the number of attempted murders with knives fell to 209 from 229.

And overall, the number of crimes recorded by police fell four per cent over the last 12 months to 4.1 million in the year to June, down from 4.3 million in the previous 12 months.