The concerning figures have been highlighted in new data provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on crimes recorded across all forces in the country during the year April 2021 to March 2022.
Reported offences across Leicestershire and Rutland increased by 16 per cent for that 12-month period, which the county force put down in part to changes in the way crimes are reported and also an expected post-pandemic increase.
Stalking and harrassement reports soared 49 per cent to 291 in the Melton community safety partnership area, sexual offences (83) increased by 29 per cent, violence with injury (316) rose by 27 per cent, drug offences (66) by 139 per cent and public order crimes (249) by 28 per cent.
In the Leicestershire Police force area as a whole, there was an increase of 29 per cent in reported sexual offences.
Assistant Chief Constable Kerry Smith said: “Whilst it is hard to see these increases, we are pleased to see the increase in reported sexual crime.
"We are doing everything we can to improve victim experience and successful prosecution and we want victims to feel confident that they can report the crime and therefore we have a true reflection of the level of sexual offences that are taking place.
“We are continuing to look at where we can improve in this area and continue to encourage victims to come forward and have confidence in the police.”
The rise in violent crimes against a person in the Melton area was mirrored in the county force area as a whole, with nearly 40,000 reported in the year, a rise of 16 per cent from the previous year. The 9,000 reported in March 2022 was highest seen in 10 years.
Police say analysis shows that many of the violent offences reported resulted in low-level injury, such as a scratch or a bruise, but that it was still an area of concern.
ACC Smith commented: “We are aware that our improved recording of crime has an impact on these figures but it still remains fact that violent offences are not acceptable and we continue to do everything we can do to tackle this.
"We also continue to develop initiatives such as our Lives Not Knives campaign and the Violence Reduction Network, working with communities and partner agencies to fight violence and to raise awareness of the impact which these crimes have.”
There was some good news in the new Melton crime figures, though, with reported burglaries (207) down by nearly 25 per cent, thefts (1,004) dropping by a similar percentage, vehicle offences (278) well down by 48 per cent, and violence without injury (405) by 29 per cent.
The data for the county force as a whole shows a decrease in robbery offences of five percent, which equates to 35 less offences recorded during that 12 months. Vehicle crime was also down by two percent and burglary by six per cent.
ACC Smith added: “Although we are seeing a decrease in robbery offences this does not mean we are complacent.
"We understand the impact that these offences have on communities that should feel safe so we continue to arrest and prosecute offenders.
“The past few months have seen a number of successful arrests, charges and convictions in court following dedicated investigations carried out by officers and staff which we publish each month on our website – we want the public to see where our efforts are focussed and how we keep communities safe.”
Overall reported crime in the Melton area increased by three per cent to 2,884 offences for the year, compared to 16 per cent for the entire Leicestershire and Rutland force area.
Crime levels have risen appreciably with regard to some offences because data taken the year before was during the Covid pandemic when people were confined to home for long periods during the government lockdowns to restrict further spread of the virus.
Rises in recorded crime are attributed to changes in recording practices, such as violence against the person offences whereby all common assaults are now reviewed and often re-classified as actual bodily harm.
In addition, over 2,000 police officers have had data integrity training to improve upon crime classification. Improvements in data integrity are also attributed to the Dedicated Decision Makers (DDMs) who review crime classification and have been in place at Leicestershire police since 2019.
Rupert Matthews, Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire and Rutland, said: “I am confident that improved crime recording is reflected in these figures showing a rise in recorded crime by police.
"It is my job to hold the Chief Constable to account on these matters but improvements that have been made do have to be seen as a good thing even if it means the figures are increasing.
"This was reflected in the recent report by HMICFRS where Leicestershire Police were shown to be outstanding in several categories including crime recording.
“It is also good to see that burglary and vehicle crime are decreasing. I know how affected a victim can be and how important it is that we do not lose focus on these areas.
“Violent and sexual crime still remain a huge challenge for policing. We are doing lots of work with the Violence Reduction Unit and other areas to ensure that the police continue to dedicate resources in these areas.”