by David Mackie
Reported sexual offences in West Yorkshire have risen by almost 50% compared to last year, with violent crime offences increasing by over 24%.
There has also been a 16.5% rise in crime generally, according to figures revealed today by West Yorkshire Police.
However, the force are putting the increases down to better recording methods and an increased confidence in victims coming forward.
West Yorkshire police say their recording now has a stricter adherence to the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS), which means that all reported crime is now recorded, unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary.
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “It is indeed concerning that the number of recorded violent crimes and sexual offences have increased considerably.
“Although increases can be accounted for in part by historic offences and increased confidence in reporting, I have already raised this with the Temporary Chief Constable to discuss what more can be done to improve confidence in accurate crime recording, but also what measures can be put in place by the police and others to bring these figures down.”
West Yorkshire Police has studied recent crime increases and estimates that, of the 16.5% increase, between January and April 2015, 15.4% is due to this “NCRS effect”.
West Yorkshire Police Temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins said: “”This is all about believing and supporting victims.
“Ethical and accurate recording is essential, though what it will mean in practical terms is that many more crimes will be recorded initially.”
West Yorkshire Police have been quick to stress that crime in West Yorkshire remains low.
TCC Collins said: “The changes under NCRS give a partial explanation, not an excuse, as to why some figures have increased. But on top of this, we have also seen a slight actual rise in crime after a sustained period of crime reduction lasting many years.
“Whilst this is concerning, it must be put in the context of that long term downward trend.”