Crimes in Kent fell last year but there was a steep rise in the number of drug offences, shoplifting and illegal possession of weapons, it has been revealed.
Figures published today show there were 4,244 (2%) fewer crimes committed throughout the county with 192,841 recorded in 2019.
Offence rates in Kent dropped slower than the national average as Office of National Statistics (ONS) data showed crime across the country dropped by 5%.
Violent crimes dropped and there were fewer deaths on Kent's roads in 2019 caused by illegal driving as well as less sexual offences, the figures show.
But while crime generally dropped overall across Kent there were sharp rises of several specific offences.
Shoplifting increased by 10% to 13,994 cases throughout the county with a whopping 68% rise in Sevenoaks.
Offences rose by more than a third (38%) in Swale and by almost a quarter (22%) in Tonbridge and Malling. But in Ashford, the number of cases dropped by 15%.
Thefts increased by 2% throughout the county to 58,432 but burglaries (6%), residential burglaries (7%) and non-residential burglaries (4%) all decreased.
Robberies rose by some 5% with 1,949 cases with Ashford seeing a huge 54% increase compared to 2018.
Pickpocketing and snatch thefts – known officially as thefts from the person – went up by 29% from 1,063 to 1,374 making it the single highest offence increase for the past 12 months.
Drug offences rose by 17% taking the total number of offences to 3,552.
Every policing area in Kent saw increases except for Medway and Sevenoaks.
But Thanet saw a huge 52% rise in drug offences from 2018 making it the area with the most drug offences in Kent (548), just two cases ahead of Medway.
Illegal possession of weapons increased in virtually every part of the county, with Maidstone having the highest increase (49%) followed by Thanet (34%).
A total of 1,628 weapon-related crimes were recorded last year with Folkestone and Hythe (293) and Medway (251) having the most offences.
Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott welcomed the falling number of crimes in 2019 and expects data for the first part of 2020 to follow the trends, which he says is partly a result of lockdown measures from Covid-19.
Mr Scott said: "This is testament to the hard work of Kent Police officers and staff throughout last year, including the hundreds of new recruits local people paid for through their council tax precept.
"That there has been a marked decrease in things like violent crime, burglary, and deaths on our roads, is particularly pleasing to see. Kent Police has come a long way in improving how it records crime so the public can be confident these figures are accurate.
"Still, neither police recorded crime data nor the Crime Survey for England and Wales are perfect measures of police performance.
"They can never reflect all the great work policing does – things like community engagement, crime prevention, safeguarding victims, or dealing with people in mental health crisis.
"When holding the Chief Constable to account, I will continue to consider all of these issues, rather than relying on raw data alone."
Kent Police Deputy Chief Constable Tony Blaker said: "An overall drop in crime in Kent is welcome news and as a force that has been graded as outstanding for the way it records crime by the independent policing inspectorate, the public should have confidence in the accuracy of this analysis.
"This is testament to the hard work of Kent Police officers and staff throughout last year"
"A reduction of 0.1% in victim based crime – approximately 88 offences – is also pleasing as despite it not appearing to be a great deal of reduced crime, a reduction nonetheless bucks the national trend.
"Knife crime also saw a drop in reports from 925 in 2018 to 793 in 2019.
"Throughout 2019 Kent Police carried out targeted operations against those involved in knife crime and drug offences and these figures are a testament to those efforts. However, we will not rest on our laurels and work is already underway to further reduce knife crime in Kent.
DCC Blaker added work is getting started on how to tackle rises in shoplifting and theft offences.
Crimes against society overall – which includes drug offences, weapon possession and public order offences – fell by 13.5% overall thanked largely to a 25% in public order offences.