The region consists of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey and West Sussex, and is policed by the Hampshire, Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Thames Valley police forces.
We wanted to know which south east police force encounters the highest levels of crime. Understanding crime levels not only gives a good indication about which parts of south east England are the most dangerous, but also helps citizens understand which types of crime are most likely to occur in their area.
To find out all of this, we looked at the most recent crime figures (year ending March 2019) published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) We’ve listed the total number of crimes recorded by each force and the crime rate per 1,000 people.
Responsible for policing the entirety of the county of Surrey, the Surrey Police Force has a 642 square mile jurisdiction. With 11 stations and three divisions, the force is made up of around 2,000 police officers, special constables and police community support officers. The population of Surrey Police’s jurisdiction is around a million.
Over a year, Surrey Police recorded:
• 23,242 violence against the person offences
• 2,393 sexual offences
• 485 robberies
• 28,458 theft offences
• 9,680 criminal damage and arson offences
• 2,992 drug offences
• 592 possession of a weapon offences
• 7,511 public order offences
• 1,583 miscellaneous crimes
In recent months and years, Surrey has seen an increase in drugs crime – linked strongly to county lines drug dealing. As London-based gangs continue to expand their networks, areas such as Surrey are likely to see more of this trend.
Additionally, over the last eight years, knife crime in Surrey has risen by 614 percent – faster than anywhere else in England and Wales. Many of these offences are also suspected to be tied to county lines drug operations.
Sussex Police’s jurisdiction covers East Sussex, West Sussex and the city of Brighton and Hove. Responsible for policing a 1,461 square mile area, Sussex Police is made up of around 3,000 police officers, special constables and police community support officers. The number of people that live in Sussex Polices jurisdiction is 1.6 million.
In a one-year period, Sussex Police recorded:
• 39,339 violence against the person offences
• 4,458 sexual offences
• 1,185 robberies
• 40,316 theft offences
• 14,061 criminal damage and arson offences
• 3,658 drug offences
• 1,691 possession of a weapon offences
• 10,587 public order offences
• 2,402 miscellaneous crimes
Like Surrey, crime rates in Sussex have also been increasing over the last few years. As county lines drug dealing spreads through the area, police are dealing with more violent and drug crimes. In response, a specialist Violence Reduction Unit has been announced after Sussex Police received a grant of £880,000 from the Home Office.
The hope is that the new unit will help Sussex Police tackle serious violence, cut crime and target county lines gangs.
Hampshire Constabulary is responsible for policing Hampshire – including Southampton and Portsmouth – as well as the Isle of Wight. As such, Hampshire Constabulary’s jurisdiction covers 1,613 square miles, with the force operating 29 police stations. The force is made up of around 4,000 employees. The population of the jurisdiction is 1.9 million.
Between July 2018 and June 2019, Hampshire Constabulary recorded:
• 56,038 violence against the person offences
• 5,564 sexual offences
• 1,347 robberies
• 54,407 theft offences
• 18,483 criminal damage and arson offences
• 3,895 drug offences
• 1,709 possession of a weapon offences
• 14,878 public order offences
• 2,604 miscellaneous crimes
Like other south east police forces, Hampshire Constabulary is facing increased levels of violent and drug crime. This is not helped by the fact that the constabulary’s jurisdiction includes Portsmouth, which is a popular docking city for drug importers.
Additionally, rising levels of rural crime – the costs of which rose by 7.7 percent last year – are also an issue for Hampshire Constabulary. This is especially worrying since Surrey Police saw the cost of rural crime fall by more than half over the same period.
Thames Valley Police enforce law and order over a 2,200 square mile area, covering Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. Thames Valley Police is made up of around 5,000 employees and operates 48 stations. The population of the jurisdiction is 2.1 million.
From July 2018 to June 2019, Thames Valley Constabulary recorded:
• 48,321 violence against the person offences
• 5,539 sexual offences
• 1,621 robberies
• 71,895 theft offences
• 18,938 criminal damage and arson offences
• 5,021 drug offences
• 1,464 possession of a weapon offences
• 7,373 public order offences
• 3,343 miscellaneous crimes
Thames Valley Police’s large jurisdiction explains why, although the constabulary recorded more crime than the Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire forces, it’s rate of crime per 1,000 people is broadly in line with that found in Surrey and Sussex and significantly lower than that found in Hampshire.
However, the force does face some serious challenges. For example, the number of assaults on police officers has risen by 33 percent in the past year. Additionally, Thames Valley Police were rated as inadequate in terms of recording crime and have reported that 80 percent of the 999 calls they receive are not a legitimate emergency.
Kent Police are responsible for policing a 1,433 square mile jurisdiction, which includes the channel tunnel. The constabulary consists of nearly 7,000 employees and operates 27 police stations. A population of 1.6 million live in Kent Police’s jurisdiction.
Between July 2018 and June 2019, Kent Police recorded:
• 79,839 violence against the person offences
• 7,159 sexual offences
• 1,988 robberies
• 58,059 theft offences
• 22,598 criminal damage and arson offences
• 3,059 drug offences
• 1,361 possession of a weapon offences
• 20,490 public order offences
• 5,410 miscellaneous crimes
With the highest number of crimes recorded, and with a significantly higher crime rate per 1,000 people than any other police force operating in the south east, those living within Kent Police’s jurisdiction are the most likely residents of south east England to be a victim of crime.
County lines, gang crime, rural crime and even cash machine raids are higher in Kent Police’s jurisdiction than any other jurisdiction in the south east. Additionally, the force has been accused of problems when it comes to properly prosecuting serious criminals – with a total of 697 crimes over a six-month period being resolved without punishment.
The Government has recently announced that it will provide Kent Police with a grant worth over £1 million to help reduce violent crime in the area. Hopefully this will go some way to bring Kent Police’s crime statistics more in line with other south east jurisdictions.
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