‘Town needs more police to turn tables on crime’ – Stevenage councillors acknowledge improvements but express concern about resources available

Police Stock.
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Police Stock. police officers - Credit: Archant

Stevenage has the highest number of crimes anywhere in Hertfordshire, but fewer police to deal with it than many more crime free areas.

At a meeting of Stevenage Borough Council’s executive on Tuesday, councillors expressed concern at the apparent inequality between crimes committed and the numbers of officers available after looking at an extensive report prepared by council officers.

The data shows that, although overall crime levels have dropped in Stevenage since 2010, it is ranked bottom in a comparison with other areas of the county on 11 major crime types.

Stevenage scores the lowest score – 10 – in the county for criminal damage, anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, violence against the person and drug trafficking of Class A substances.

It gets a second-bottom – nine – for other types of burglary and robbery, eight for motor vehicle crime and seven for drug possession. It does however score one – the best – for burglary dwelling.

Bedwell is identified as the top ‘hotspot’ for crime in Stevenage for all crimes except burglary dwelling where Roebuck is cited.

Councillors also expressed concern that the town has 86 police constables where St Albans has 85 and Welwyn and Hatfield has 95, even though these areas have far lower crime figures.

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Councillor Sherma Batson, who is responsible for safer communities, said: “Most crime types have reduced since 2010, but Stevenage is still at the bottom of the table in most areas.

“When you measure it against resources available we certainly don’t come top of the list, so we need to ask how the allocation of resources is done.”

The borough council’s leader Sharon Taylor said she was also very concerned about the increase in domestic abuse and violent crime – the only two crime types which have increased since 2010.

Domestic abuse has increased from 510 to 992 and violence against a person has shot up from 1,079 to 2,002.

Stevenage Chief Inspector Tannis Perks said: “I understand that the public quite rightly will want to know that their local police have enough resources to respond when needed and that we are doing all we can to reduce crime.

“There are demands on your local police that go beyond investigating crime and as I have previously shared with you can often be about keeping people safe.

“Hertfordshire has a number of specialist teams that are called upon to support local policing which include a dedicated team for domestic abuse and major crime.

“All reported crime in Stevenage is subject to review and those responsible dealt with at the earliest opportunity. There have been increases in some areas this year and I will be happy to share this with you over the coming weeks and to also ask for your help especially with the school holidays upon us.”

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