Crime statistics for Chiltern, broken down by the four sub-areas Chesham, Amersham, the Chalfonts and the Missendens, were available and updated monthly on the Police.UK website. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the data has not been broken down by the four areas, but it has been possible, with a little effort, to download and process data for the Chiltern Local Policing area as a whole.
Below we take some of this data and present it in graphical form. We shall update it ahead of each priority setting cycle, and hope that it will be helpful as guidance in priority setting surveys and meetings. There are limitations, though. Crimes are placed in 14 categories which do not mirror the community-based concerns in our survey. Also, data relating to speeding and parking are not captured, and our surveys tell us every quarter that these are matters of particular concern to residents. Similarly, another category of high concern, cyber crime and fraud, is recorded elsewhere. Nonetheless, we feel it provides useful context.
Incidences of Crime ranked by Category, 2017-2020
Below we show incidences of reported crime ranked by category. Violence against a person and sexual offences tend to be the most prevalent form of crime. Anti-social behaviour generally ranks towards the top of reported crime. To an extent this is because these are ‘catch-all’ categories: ‘violence against a person’ can include everything from name-calling to murder; anti-social behaviour also covers a lot of offences and behaviours. ‘Other theft’ includes theft from a person, robbery, bicycle theft, shoplifting – in fact all theft outside those reported as Burglary.
It is a good thing that Drugs and Weapons Possession are consistently towards the bottom of the list. The fact that they tend to rank higher in our priority surveys reflects the fear of these things, the potential harm they can cause, and the fact that they can be triggers for other forms of crime.
Reported Burglaries, 2017-2020
Burglary is regularly the greatest concern expressed within the Priority surveys, and has therefore been a ‘top 3’ priority since the inception of Chiltern Community Forum. For the Police reporting year to end-March 2020, there was a pleasing 1% reduction in total Burglaries compared to the prior year. Locally and nationally, Burglary numbers have been below trend during the lockdown.
Reported Drug Crimes, 2017-2019
We are fortunate that reported drug crimes within Chiltern are relatively low. To judge from survey comments, this would not necessarily chime with the sentiment of some residents. And with drug and alcohol abuse frequently being a causatory factor for other crimes, Drug Dealing and Misuse has regularly been made a top 3 priority. We were told to expect the crime numbers to rise as a result of greater enforcement, and we hope that this is what is reflected in the rise in stats over the past 18 months or so.
Antisocial Behaviour Trends, 2016-2020
There is a distinct seasonal pattern to reported Antisocial Behaviour crimes. This suggests that loutish behaviour tends to increase with longer daylight hours.
Public Order Offences, 2016-2020
The graph of reported public order offences makes for slightly disconcerting viewing. One the one hand, it seems to share some of the seasonal characteristics of AntiSocial Behaviour. But on the other hand, there does seem to have been an overall upward trend, and an unusually high figure in May 2020 – possibly COVID-related, reflecting residents going stir-crazy during lockdown?
Reported Violence and Sexual Assault Crimes, 2017-2020
Violence and Sexual Assault tends to be the most frequently reported crime, and covers a range of incidents. It is concerning to see a general trend upwards in numbers, with a lockdown dip in April, but a surge in May. This despite the absence of a local ‘nighttime economy’. A great deal of publicity has been given to the potential for domestic abuse during lockdown. There is a concern that, as lockdown is lifted, numbers may rise further.
Reported Weapon Possession Crimes, 2017-2020
Chiltern does not seem to have an epidemic of weapons possession, but Knife Crime was made a priority in November 2018 to encourage prevention and education work with young people and in schools. It was replaced as a top 3 priority in February 2019 while the rest of the UK was being put on red alert for knife crime. This was an informed decision, reflecting evidence of the previous 3 months, work being done particularly by Schools and Youth Liaison Officer PC Claire Annison, and force-wide initiatives. Of course, it is important not to be complacent…
Reported Criminal Damage and Arson 2017-2020
This is perhaps the most striking graph from the lockdown period, with a surge in criminal damage and arson in May.
Reported Vehicle Crimes, 2017-2020