VIOLENT crime has risen in Maldon over the last year, despite an overall drop in recorded offences.

Essex Police recorded 1,667 incidents of violent crime in Maldon in the 12 months to September, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That was an increase of 13 per cent compared to the previous year.

At 25.7 crimes per 1,000 people, that was lower than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 30.1.

One of the main factors behind the increase in Maldon was the rise in violence without injury, which rose by 19 per cent, from 552 incidents to 656.

There were also 654 cases of stalking or harassment, up by 18 per cent on the previous year.

The coronavirus pandemic and related lockdown restrictions have resulted in fluctuations in the level of crime experienced in England and Wales

Overall, police recorded six per cent fewer crimes across England and Wales – there were around 5.7 million offences in the year to September.

The ONS said this was driven by substantial falls in the three months to June, particularly in theft offences.

But separate figures from its Crime Survey for England and Wales show the estimated number of victims of crime in the three months to September were similar to levels seen in the run-up to the pandemic.

Helen Ross, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: “The coronavirus pandemic and related lockdown restrictions have resulted in fluctuations in the level of crime experienced in England and Wales.

“Data from the survey showed decreases in crime at the start of the pandemic, with rises seen over the summer months, specifically in theft, following the easing of lockdown measures, with overall crime now back at pre-lockdown levels of January to March 2020.

“There were also fluctuations in police recorded crime, but total recorded offences for July to September 2020 were below that seen in the same period in 2019.”

The total number of offences in Maldon fell by two per cent, with police recording 3,617 crimes over the course of the year.

This puts the overall crime rate at 55.7 per 1,000 people, compared to a national average of 83.5

Other crimes recorded in Maldon included:

  • 130 sexual offences, a rise of 40 per cent
  • 812 theft offences, down 24 per cent
  • 377 incidents of criminal damage and arson, down 12 per cent
  • 136 drug offences, up 11 per cent
  • 18 possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, down 36 per cent
  • 389 public order offences, up eight per cent

The ONS said an annual three per cent drop in recorded knife crime across England and Wales was largely down to a 22% decrease in April to June. However, this was followed by a sharp increase in the three months to September.

Children’s charity Barnardo’s warned that offences could “erupt” once the latest lockdown is eased.

Chief executive Javed Khan said: “Children and young people have spent months out of school and away from their support networks, leaving many vulnerable to exploitation and control by criminal gangs who have seized on the disruption.

“With rising unemployment and poor job prospects, some young people are finding it hard to believe in a positive future, and see no alternative but to turn to a dangerous way of making money, carrying knives to protect themselves.”