Latest crime figures for Lewes show drug crime has increased by more than a third

The average rate across England and Wales was 85 crimes per 1,000 residents, and the number of recorded homicides rose by 14 per cent to the highest level since 2008.
The average rate across England and Wales was 85 crimes per 1,000 residents, and the number of recorded homicides rose by 14 per cent to the highest level since 2008.

Drug crime in Lewes has increased by more than a third, according to the latest police recorded figures.

There were 129 drug related offences in the 12 months to September 2018, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This includes trafficking and dealing substances such as heroin and cocaine, as well as possession crimes.

That figure is up by 37 per cent on the previous year, when 94 incidents were recorded.

The statistics are based on crimes reported to the police, and the ONS urges caution in interpreting some of these figures.

Helen Ross, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: “In recent decades we’ve seen the overall level of crime falling, but in the last year, it remained level.

“Burglary, shoplifting and computer misuse are decreasing but others, such as vehicle offences and robbery are rising.

“We have also seen increases in some types of ‘lower-volume, high-harm’ violence including offences involving knives or sharp instruments.”

Overall, police recorded crime in Lewes slightly increased in the 12 months to September 2018.

Over the period, 5,161 crimes were recorded, up by four per cent on 2016-17.

That means there was a rate of 50 crimes per 1,000 residents during 2017-18, below the England and Wales average of 85.

Gun and knife possession offences in Lewes rose by three to 53 incidents.

There has been one homicide, a murder or manslaughter. There was one case of death or injury by dangerous driving.

Across England and Wales, the number of recorded homicides rose by 14 per cent, to the highest level since 2008. These figures excluded people who died in terror attacks.

In Lewes, theft, one of the most high volume crimes, decreased by nine per cent.

Commenting on the national figures, Chief Constable Bill Skelly, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “Rising crime, increased terrorist activity and fewer police officers have put serious strain on the policing we offer to the public.

“We are determining the additional capabilities and investment we need to drive down violence and catch more criminals – and we will make the case at the next Government Spending Review.”

Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said: “These statistics show that your chance of being a victim of crime remains low, but we recognise that certain crimes – particularly violent crime – have increased, and we are taking action to address this.”

Criminal damage in Lewes, which includes arson and vandalising cars and houses, has gone up, from 703 incidents in 2016-17, to 725 in the latest figures.

While violence with injury, which includes assault, GBH and wounding, has risen, the ONS said this could be due to improved police recording.

Similarly, the ONS said sexual offences are hard to judge as many more victims are now coming forward due to a series of high profile cases.

In Lewes, there were 208 incidents recorded between October 2017 and September 2018, a one per cent rise on the previous year, when 207 crimes were reported.

There were also 365 cases of stalking and harassment reported over the same period.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, said: “Society just isn’t as safe as it once was, and although the police service is doing everything within its power, we are swimming against the tide.”

• Report by Ralph Blackburn, data reporter


• To see the figures for the each area of Sussex follow these links – Adur; Arun; Brighton and Hove; Chichester; Crawley; Eastbourne; Hastings; Horsham; Lewes; Mid Sussex; Rother; Wealden; Worthing