Wiltshire recorded a 10 per cent rise in total crime in the last year.

The rise in Wiltshire is set against a 14 per cent increase in total crime for the South West area and a 16 per cent increase for England and Wales.

But the ONS figures show Wiltshire as having the lowest recorded overall crime rate per head of population of the five forces in the South West region - at 55.8 crimes per 1,000 people.

The year ending March 2022 saw a significant increase in reported sexual offences, violent offences, criminal damage, theft and public order offences.

But, rates of drug offences in the Wiltshire force area are showing a 30 per cent decrease.

Wiltshire crime figures:

  • Violence against the person: 13 per cent increase (23.6 offences per 1,000)
  • Sexual offences: 21 per cent increase (2.4 offences per 1,000)
  • Robbery: four per cent increase (0.4 offences per 1,000)
  • Theft offences: 11  per cent increase (13.8 offences per 1,000)
  • Criminal Damage and Arson: 14 per cent increase (7.1 offences per 1,000)
  • Drug Offences: 30 per cent decrease (1.6 offences per 1,000)
  • Possession of Weapons offences: six per cent increase (0.5 offences per 1,000)
  • Public Order offences: 13 per cent increase (5.3 offences per 1,000)

The ONS report suggests that patterns of crime over the last two years have been substantially affected by the coronavirus pandemic and government restrictions on social contact but are now returning to pre-Covid levels. 

Detective Superintendent Sarah Robbins, head of Geographic Crime said: “The latest set of statistics reveal the real challenges that Wiltshire Police face, in common with our colleagues in other forces.

“The figures, especially in the case of sexual offences, in part reflect the huge amount of work we have put into encouraging victims to report crimes - we have been working hard to encourage community engagement and trust with our officers in order to reach out to victims.

“However, the increase in some crime types that these figures appear to show is a real concern. We never forget that behind these statistics are real victims and we recognise that there is further work to do in order to protect our communities.

“It is clear that we are facing a period of huge challenge and change with increasing demand on our officers and staff who are working hard to meet this demand. The recent HMICFRS PEEL inspection made it clear that we need to focus more explicitly on responding to the public and protecting those most vulnerable in our communities.

“To this end, a raft of work is ongoing to ensure the appropriate level of emphasis and resources are put in place to achieve this and we will continue to be transparent with our communities as we progress with these improvements.

“As an organisation, we continually reflect on our practice to adapt and improve in order to meet the rapidly changing nature of crime and public protection.

“Working closely with the Police and Crime Commissioner, who has a vital role in holding the force to account on behalf of the public, we continue to seek to make constant improvements as an organisation."

The figures released today cover the first full year without ‘stay-at-home’ restrictions since the start of the pandemic and show an increase of more than 13 per cent in violence against the person, in the 12 months leading up to March 2022, an increase of 20 per cent in violent offences without injury and a 21 per cent increase in sexual offences.

Wiltshire PCC Philip Wilkinson called the increase in violent and sexual offences over the last year in the county ‘incredibly worrying’.

He added it showed how demand on police forces was increasing across the country.

“In Wiltshire we have more victims than ever who need help and support to recover from the crimes against them and the extra national funding secured by my office means that specialist support is available for victims but preventing crime in the first place continues to be my priority and one victim is one victim too many.

“We know there is a major issue around sexual offences, especially those against women and girls and that is why I have invested in Wiltshire Police’s capacity, based on operational advice from the Chief Constable, by allocating more than £750,000 into a specialist team focusing on investigating and preventing violence against women and girls.”