Metal thieves contribute to surge in Midhurst crime figures

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MIDHURST had the biggest increase in crime in the entire district last year, it has emerged.

Chichester District Council’s overview and scrutiny committee met yesterday (Thursday November 14) to discuss the Community Safety Partnership, and to outline any concerns.

And in the light of the crime surge in Midhurst, members are considering taking some action to redress the situation.

The meeting looked at a strategic assessment compiled by the partnership and including an analysis of crime trends using figures produced by Sussex Police.

The report shows despite the fact there were 502 fewer crimes in 2012 than in 2011 across the district, in Midhurst the figure rose by 31 per cent – by far the highest rise in the Chichester District last year.

In an analysis of the crime pattern, the assessment concludes: “The figures suggest Midhurst saw the greatest increase, particularly in motor vehicle crime and other theft, the combined wards of Selsey saw the next biggest increase mainly in burglaries, and Chichester East, though seeing an overall decrease, saw increases in criminal damage and burglaries. These areas should be considered for targeted action.”

Midhurst’s district councillor Gordon McAra said: “Although the increase in the theft figures certainly looks bad, they may be the result of the police making much more effort in this area and encouraging people to report crime they might have not done in the past.

“We certainly saw a major increase in theft of metal, particularly lead.

“However the new Scrap Metal Dealers Act should make some impact on this. The Association of Chief Police Officers estimates the illegal trade was costing the UK economy £770m a year, but it says such thefts are now falling, which is welcome news.

“Despite the blip, Midhurst remains a low-crime town in a low-crime area, but everyone must play their part in reducing it.”

There were 111 thefts other than vehicle thefts, up 57 from 2011, and 32 thefts from vehicles, up 21 from 2011 .

But there was a sharp reduction in violent crime, down 15 on 2011 to 49 incidents.

It was a different story in Petworth where overall crime was down by 12 reported incidents to 166, although there was a slight rise in theft, up four to 49, and criminal damage up three to 35 cases.