Levels of the most serious violent crime in parts of the West Midlands have rocketed by as much as 53 per cent prompting a renewed police crackdown.
According to new figures, the amount of “most serious violence”, which includes homicide, attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, wounding and fatal motoring offences, leapt by more than 11 per cent across the region last year.
The rise is at odds with another successful year for the police, which saw total crime fall by another eight per cent to its lowest levels for 19 years.
Bloxwich police recorded the highest rise with a 53.7 per cent in crime in the “most serious violence” category, followed by Solihull which saw a 46.7 per cent rise and east Wolverhampton which saw a 41.6 per cent rise despite all three areas seeing a fall in overall crime. However, police in Handsworth, Stechford, Harborne and Birmingham city centre were among those who bucked the trend and saw a decrease in the number of offences in the category.
West Midlands Police’s outgoing chief constable Sir Paul Scott-Lee said part of the rise could be attributed to changes in Home Office counting rules.
He admitted, however, that the rise “remains a matter of public disquiet”.
“The force is therefore taking positive action, and a number of ongoing initiatives are succeeding in tackling the most serious violent offenders,” said Sir Paul.
Among those was the on-going anti-gang and gun crackdown and an initiative to target knife crime, he added.
The increasing levels of the most serious violent crime, from 3,107 offences in 2007/08 to 3,459 in the last 12 months, has taken to gloss off another successful year of crimefighting, resulting in 20,000 fewer victims of crime.
West Midlands Police figures showed that total recorded crime fell by more than eight per cent from 248,000 offences in 2007/08 to 227,743 in the year to the end of March.
The figures also showed that house burglary was at its lowest for 29 years, acquisitive crime such as robbery dropped seven per cent and vehicle crime was down nine per cent. Detection rates also hit a high of 29.3 per cent of all crime
Sir Paul added: “While crime figures remain an important area, they are only part of the picture as far as our communities are concerned.
“The real test of success is whether people see and feel the difference to their quality of life.
“I’m therefore pleased that the latest Feeling the Difference surveys continue to show significant reductions in people’s fear of crime and improvements in their levels of satisfaction with West Midlands Police.”
Meanwhile in neighbouring Warwickshire, overall crime rates fell by almost six per cent to 37,476 offences in the 12 months to the end of March.
House burglaries fell by 6.1 per cent, theft of vehicles fell 17.1 per cent and criminal damage fell by 13.3 per cent. There was a 12.4 per cent increase in thefts from vehicles although police put that down to minor offences such as theft of hubcaps and number plates.
Deputy Chief Constable Andy Parker said: “These figures are very encouraging.”