NORTH Yorkshire has seen a 12 per cent increase in crime, with a sharp rise in public order offences, incidents involving violence against the person and sexual offences.

North Yorkshire Police said it is working hard to stem the rise in crime but is pleased the area remains the safest place in England and Wales. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) Crime in England and Wales, year ending June 2019 report, shows there were 45,839 crimes in North Yorkshire.

The latest figures show that public order offences were up by 41 per cent, with 2,505 crimes. Violence against the person incidents increased by 28 per cent, with 15,124 crimes. This includes harassment and stalking, which was up by 83 per cent, with 3,392 crimes altogether.

However, according to the police, the ONS say trends in stalking and harassment offences recorded by the police need to be interpreted with caution due to Home Office changes in the coverage of this group of offences and in the rules governing recording.

The ONS report shows sexual offences in North Yorkshire increased by 16 per cent, with 1,967 crimes in total.

Speaking about the rise in sexual offences, a spokesman for the county’s police force, said: “This rise is regarded as a positive reflection of the confidence victims have in North Yorkshire Police, particularly those making historical complaints in the wake of high profile historical sexual abuse cases, plus support from dedicated facilities for victims of sexual assault.”

Robbery increased by 21 per cent, with 221 crimes, miscellaneous crimes against society, which includes the possession and publication of extreme sexual images, increased by 19 per cent, with 881 crimes, possession of weapons offences were up by 16 per cent, with 318 crimes, and burglary increased by 10 per cent, with 4,010 crimes.

In addition, theft from the person was up by 12 per cent, with 496 crimes, bicycle theft increased by nine per cent, with 1,193 crimes, theft offences rose by three per cent, with 17,256 crimes, other theft offences were up seven per cent, with 4,751 crimes, and criminal damage and arson was up by one per cent, with 6,013 crimes.

Meanwhile, vehicle offences reduced by nine per cent, with 2,245 crimes, shoplifting dropped by three per cent, with 4,561 crimes, and drug offences decreased by two per cent, with 1,554 crimes.

Deputy constable Phil Cain said: “It is very pleasing that North Yorkshire remains the safest and lowest crime area in England and Wales, which is testament to the dedication of our policing teams and our community partners.

“Nevertheless, the 12 per cent rise in recorded crime during this period is concerning.

“Alongside other police forces and public services, we are facing challenging times. We have to prioritise limited resources to deal with harmful crimes and put victims, especially the most vulnerable, at the heart of everything we do.

“At the same time, we are maintaining a strong commitment to neighbourhood policing which is the bedrock of our service, and continuing our well-established proactive approach to tackling and deterring offenders who travel into North Yorkshire from other counties.

“With our targeted investment to bolster and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of front-line policing, such as ongoing recruitment and the roll-out of handheld devices to save officers having to go back to the station to use computers, as well as in specialist rural crime, safeguarding, fraud and cybercrime teams, we are confident that North Yorkshire Police is on track to turn around the rise in crime.”