Sex offenses continued to rise in Hampshire and Dorset, with the latest official figures showing an increase in crime in both counties.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) data for the year ending March 2022 revealed Hampshire’s total recorded crime rate was up 24% on the previous 12 months, while Dorset’s had increased by 8%.
The average increase in crime for forces in England and Wales was 16%.
Stealing offenses accounted for Hampshire’s biggest annual increase of 60%, with stalking and stalking up 48% and sexual offenses up 36%.
Public disorder rose by a third in the county, as did violent offenses against the person.
Vehicle crime increased by 23%, theft by 18%, possession of weapons by 12% and criminal damage and arson by 11%.
Drug-related offenses saw the biggest drop in Hampshire, down 10%.
Despite celebrating what is now ranked the seventh safest area in the country, Dorset Police acknowledged that more needed to be done to tackle sex crimes, which accounted for its biggest increase (34%).
Other significant county increases included public order (20%), theft (14%), and person theft (13%).
A 20% increase in violence with injury was included in a 9% increase in violence against the person, as well as a 4% increase in violence without injury.
Drug-related offenses were Dorset’s biggest hit, down 20%, while gun possession fell 10%. There was a 2% drop in burglaries.
In response to the figures, Dorset Police claimed a rise in crime was “inevitable” as Covid-19 restrictions eased.
Chief Constable Scott Chilton said: “Looking at comparisons of the data with those recorded before Covid-19, this continues to be a positive reflection on our priorities of getting tough on crime and bringing offenders to justice.”
But he continued: “I recognize that we face some challenges in other areas, such as sex crimes, which have increased in line with national averages.
“While this is concerning, we recognize that this is in part due to the increased confidence of victims who choose to report cases to us, as well as the reporting of many historic crimes.
“We are committed to reducing and preventing sexual offending, including rape, and working closely with our partners to improve the victim journey and increase positive outcomes.
“We encourage victims to come forward and report violations so that we can support them and protect them from future harm.”