Weapons crime surges in Wigan

Weapons surge in Wigan
Weapons surge in Wigan

The number of people arrested for going armed with lethal weapons is rocketing in Wigan.

Shock new figures reveal that there were no fewer than 217 offences of possessing a gun, deadly blade or even corrosive acid in the borough between July 2017 and June 2018: a massive 25 per cent rise on the previous 12 months when 174 such crimes were recorded.

Overall reported crime in Wigan has also shot up by 10 per cent over the same period to 30,121 offences.

That means there was a rate of 93 crimes per 1,000 residents during 2017-18: well above the England and Wales average of 84.

There were 2,152 residential burglaries reported in Wigan. Due to a change in how the Office for National Statistics categorises burglaries, the localised figure cannot be compared with other years.

There were five murders or manslaughters and three cases of death or injury by dangerous driving.

Theft, one of the highest volume crimes, increased by four per cent, while drug-related offences rose by eight per cent.

Criminal damage in Wigan, which includes arson and vandalising cars and houses, has gone down, from 4,537 incidents in 2016-17, to 4,194 in the latest figures.

While violence with injury, which includes assault, GBH and wounding, has risen, this could just be due to improved police recording as opposed to an increase in incidents, experts say.

Similarly sexual crime statistics are hard to judge as many more victims are now coming forward due to a series of high profile cases.

In Wigan there were 828 incidents recorded between July 2017 and June 2018, a 12 per cent rise on the previous year, when 742 crimes were reported.

There were also 1,820 cases of stalking and harassment reported over the same period.

The ONS figures are based on crimes reported to the police.

The rise in weapon possession was reflected nationally. Across England and Wales there was a nine per cent increase in offences with knives or sharp objects, leading to the highest number of incidents since March 2011, when comparable records started.

The number of recorded homicides also rose, by 14 per cent, reflecting an “upward trend” since 2014. These figures excluded people who died in terror attacks.

Joe Traynor, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: “Over recent decades, we’ve seen continued falls in overall levels of crime but in the last year the trend has been more stable. We saw rises in some types of theft and in some lower-volume but higher-harm types of violence.”

Chief Constable Bill Skelly, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “Rising crime is placing greater demand on policing, as forces strive to reduce crime as well as respond to a growing terrorist threat.

“There are also more calls from the public for help, including responding to people in crisis when other agencies lack their own capacity.”

Mr Skelly said the gap in numbers between reported crimes and criminals being charged is a “real concern for us”. The upcoming spending review is a crucial opportunity for the

Government and police leaders to come to a consensus about police demand, our capabilities to meet it and the funding required, he added.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation for England and Wales, said: “It didn’t take a crystal ball to predict these shocking increases because they only reflect what we have been telling the Government for years – we need more boots on the ground.”