Violent crime rises in Derbyshire after loss of hundreds of police officers
The number of violent crimes reported to Derbyshire police has soared year-on-year, latest figures show.
In the year to last September, robbery rose 19 per cent from 515 incidents to 613 while rape and sexual offences increased 16 per cent from 1,661 crimes to 1,933.
Knife crime rose from 96 offences to 132 - an increase of 20 per cent.
There were 199 fewer incidents of violence against the person, which fell by more than one per cent, dropping from 12,467 to 12,268.
According to Hardyal Dhindsa, the county's Police and Crime Commissioner, the local population has risen by 25 per cent in the last decade while Derbyshire Constabulary has lost 378 officers, axed 18 PCSOs and cut around 344 staff vacancies in the past seven years.
Mr Dhindsa said the force had saved Â£37million during that period and is receiving a Â£99.833m Government police grant this year - down from Â£116.153m in 2010-11.
However, the Government insists Derbyshire Constabulary is getting almost Â£2m more total funding this year than in the previous 12 months.
'This is the lowest increase in the region'
Where Derbyshire Constabulary has seen increases in crime, they have been less than the national average.
Nationally, police forces have seen a 29 per cent rise in robbery, a 23 per cent rise in sexual offences, a 21 per cent rise in knife crime and a 20 per cent rise in violent crime.
Peter Goodman, Chief Constable of Derbyshire Constabulary, said: "We have seen a rise in recorded crime in Derbyshire and a rise in the more complex and hidden offences we deal with, such as domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation and modern slavery.
"We have aligned resources to meet this changing demand but this is challenging in light of funding cuts.
"This is one of the reasons Mr Dhindsa is proposing an increase in the council tax precept this year."
Mr Dhindsa added: "According to the Office for National Statistics, recorded crime in England and Wales is increasing and indeed figures for Derbyshire show a five per cent rise.
"This is the lowest increase in the region and one of the lowest in England and Wales.
"This type of performance is the result of exceptional leadership and the wholehearted commitment of our officers, staff and volunteers and I thank them all.
"And, while one victim is one too many, this is good news for our residents, businesses and visitors."
Government hits back
In a statement, the Police Federation of England and Wales said falling officer numbers has a 'direct influence' on crime numbers.
Andy Frittes, the federation's general secretary, said: "Frontline officers are under increasing pressure and dealing with larger caseloads than ever before.
"This worrying rise in crime will only add to this pressure.
"The reality is there are around 21,000 fewer officers than there were in 2010 and they are having to deal with an ever-increasing number of crimes.
"This is on top of the numerous other roles they undertake as they serve the public."
Nick Hurd, policing minister, said: "The independent Office for National Statistics is clear that overall traditional crime is continuing to fall and is now down by almost 40 per cent since 2010 while fraud and computer misuse - the most commonly experienced crime - has reduced by 15 per cent in the past year.
"It is also welcome that the police's recording of crime is improving and that more victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence are feeling empowered to come forward.
"But we know that some of the increase in police-recorded violent offences is genuine which is why we have taken urgent action to stop these crimes.
"We will be announcing tough new laws to crack down on acid attacks and knife offences.
"And as crime changes, we will change our response - our forthcoming Serious Violence Strategy will place a new emphasis on steering young people away from a life of crime while continuing to promote the strongest possible law enforcement response."