Published: 20:32, 07 December 2018
| Updated: 20:35, 07 December 2018
A senior police officer says improvements to how crime is recorded is responsible for the "significant" rise in incidents across Medway.
More than 31,000 crimes were recorded in the Towns by Kent Police between April 2017 and March 2018 – representing a year-on-year increase of 35.7%.
"Violence against the person" makes up more than a third of those incidents, with "theft and handling" and "crimes against society" completing the top three of most common offences.
Trying to alleviate concerns from councillors, chief inspector Rob Marsh explained single incidents can now be recorded as “up to five crimes” depending on how many unlawful acts are committed.
He said: “The large part of the numerical rise can be accounted for by our greater integrity around recording incidents and crimes.
"Kent Police were inspected some time ago and it was found our crime recording accuracy was not at the point we would like it, and a lot of work has been invested in that area of the force.
"Although we haven’t had the results published yet, I’m reliably informed our accuracy is significantly improved and in a much healthier position.
"Of course, what that has led to is a significant rise in crime being recorded and rightly so – it’s a much truer reflection of the number of crimes we’re having reported to us."
The district commander for Medway added the rise “will continue for a while” as a result of the changes, as well as the reporting of historic crimes in part due to the continuing "Jimmy Savile effect".
"The large part of the numerical rise can be accounted for by our greater integrity around recording incidents and crimes" - chief inspector Rob Marsh
Opposition councillors said the report did not conclude whether more crime had been committed, with Ch Insp Rob Marsh unable to say what proportion of the 35.7% increase was due to the changes.
Cllr Tristan Osborne (Lab) added: “I hear this every year. Of course, I don’t doubt the sincerity that they have changed but that could be masking an increase in crime.
"I suspect it is masking an increase in crime, and the question then is do we have sufficient resources in dealing with crime.”
The Community Safety Partnership’s strategic assessment also showed an 18% decrease in anti-social behaviour (ASB) incidents between April 2017 and March 2018.
This statistic may also be unrepresentative according to Cllr Andy Stamp (Lab), who told the meeting: “We shouldn’t assume the situation has improved or there is less ASB taking place in our communities.
"I was in a town centre forum meeting only the other week when shop traders and residents were saying in large numbers that they’ve given up reporting incidents."