Tunbridge Wells remains ‘safest town’ despite crime rise

New data shows crime has risen by 25 per cent in Tunbridge Wells, although the town continues to be the safest place in the county.

In the 12 month period up to November 2017, recorded offences across the borough increased from 5,430 to 6,773.

The highest number was ‘violent crime’, which includes assault, robbery, mugging and murder.

Matthew Scott, Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent, told the Times yesterday [Tuesday] that he ‘understands concerns’ about the rising rates and has increased funds in Tunbridge Wells.

The local figures were revealed in a borough council Cabinet meeting on Thursday [April 12] where members passed their Community Safety Partnership plan for 2018/19.

A report, heard by councillors, states: ‘This trend closely follows the Kent average, which we remain well below, reflecting our position as the safest local authority area.

‘The increase of 1,343 crimes is the lowest recorded in Kent numerically and by population, maintaining our position as the safest of Kent’s 12 boroughs.’

Tonbridge & Malling was the second safest local authority and Sevenoaks was the third.

Statistically the three most unsafe are Thanet, Dartford & Gravesham and Medway, respectively.

Kent-wide data showed a 27 per cent rise in crime between October 2016 and September 2017, with an additional 32,793 reports in that time.

The partnership plan sets out how various bodies, including the borough council, Kent County Council, Kent Police and Kent Fire and Rescue, should work together to address crime and antisocial behaviour.

The Community Safety Partnership’s priorities for 2018/19 will be: Domestic abuse, road safety, safeguarding [which encompasses gangs, organised crime, modern slavery and child sex exploitation] and alcohol and drug abuse.

To address these priorities, the partnership has engaged with local agencies to work out a plan. For example local domestic abuse charity DAVSS has been commissioned to provide programmes to help sufferers.

Matthew Scott, Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent, has pledged a 10 per cent increase in funding to the partnership and will now spend £31,332.

He said: ‘I understand peoples’ concerns when published data appears to show crime going up, but Tunbridge Wells remains the safest district in Kent.

‘The data needs to be understood in the context of Kent Police employing better crime recording practices and also better public confidence, especially from vulnerable victims, in coming forward to report crimes like domestic abuse and sexual offences to police.’

Mr Scott said he considered the police recorded crime data to be a ‘less accurate’ measure than the Crime Survey of England and Wales.

These figures were collaborated from a population sample’s responses to a survey.

They appeared to show a 6 per cent decrease in crime but these statistics do not break down to local level.

Mr Scott continued: ‘Of course, I am not complacent.

‘I have increased the amount of money I award to Tunbridge Wells Community Safety Partnership to spend on crime prevention initiatives.

‘Kent Police is using money I have raised from a modest council tax rise to recruit up to 200 more police officers to make us even safer.’

Crime in numbers

  • 6,773 The total number of crimes reported in Tunbridge Wells in from December 2016 to November 2017.
  • 5,430 The previous year’s figure.
  • 12 The number of authorities in Kent. Tunbridge Wells finished at 12 with the lowest number of crimes reported.
  • 7 The percentage rise in crime from 2015/16 to 2016/17 in Tunbridge Wells.
  • 2,802 The number of ‘violent crimes’ reported in Tunbridge Wells, a rise of 39 per cent, making it the highest crime reported.
  • 40 The percentage rise in sexual offences, the biggest percentage rise.
  • 11 There were 11 crime types that were reported more in the latest report than had been the year before in Tunbridge Wells.
  • 3 The number of crime types where there was a fall. These are: Antisocial behaviour, drug possession and theft from a motor vehicle.
  • 45 The percentage rise for overall crime in Dover. This is the biggest percentage increase of any Kent authority.
  • 154,248 The total number of crimes [excluding fraud] reported in Kent from October 2016 to September 2017 – the latest data available.
  • 121,455 The previous year’s Kent total

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