VIOLENT crime in Horsham has more than tripled over the past last year, according to data from an official police website.
But the figures from the online crime mapping system - www.police.uk - are being disputed by Chief Inspector Mark Trimmer of Horsham police, who this week gave the County Times an exclusive interview, prior to his retirement on January 2.
The online data shows a dramatic rise in the number of recorded incidents from December 2010, when figures were first recorded, to October 2011, the most recent month for which data is published.
In December 2010, there were 11 incidents of violent crime recorded in Horsham. This more than tripled to 36 in October 2011,
The website also seems to reveal a steady month by month increase in overall criminal activity within the town this year, from 186 during December 2010, to more than 270 incidents by October 2011.
Anti-social behaviour also climbed from 82 to 115 over the same period, and vehicle crime from zero to six.
However, the increase is not truly representative, according to CI Trimmer, who argues the figures result from number of factors which the website does not make clear.
“It is a very blunt overview and there’s no commentary behind it - it’s just the figures with no explanation,” he told the County Times.
“We had the really cold snap and a 50 per cent reduction in crime and therefore an increase was always going to be inevitable.”
He said internal crime reporting procedures had changed and had also played a part in the reported rise. One incident might receive ten reports, which were all logged as a separate number.
For example, in relation to the incidents of violent crime figures, CI Trimmer said: “Six are down to one elderly 63-year-old female who was arrested a number of times for harassing her neighbours.”
The chief inspector also clarified that violent crime did not mean incidents resulting in injury. Harassment, public order offences and possession of a weapon would all be recorded under the ‘umbrella term’.
He continued: “We’ve been trying to increase engagement within the community with Horsham police, and encouraging more people to report crime.”
Crime map figures were reviewed fortnightly at a tactical tasking meeting with Horsham District Council, where staff decided how to respond to the various patterns and trends uncovered, he said.
CI Trimmer went on to explain how Horsham has suffered as a result of the national state of the economy: “Quite clearly the economy is having an effect on night time activity.
“It’s changing because people now cannot afford to go out and drink completely over the weekend, it’s now being restricted to one night.
“Understandably people are concerned and some of this can be reflected in the amount of domestic violence and ASBOs - clearly it is having an impact. And that’s why I encourage people to report it so we can get the appropriate services to help them.”
However, Horsham police have noticed an overall decrease in the number of alcohol related crime this year.
CI Trimmer said: “Horsham police have also been very productive in trying to prevent this, by carrying out patrols in the evening the message has appeared to get through to youngsters that we will not tolerate them walking around with alcohol and we will not tolerate over 18s buying alcohol for people under age.”
He stressed: “Horsham is still a very very safe place to live and work - last year there was a 25 per cent reduction in all injury violence.”