Rise in recorded crime biggest for 10 years as violence and thefts surge
Rising levels of violence and theft are behind the largest annual increase in crimes recorded by police in a decade, new figures show.
The number of crimes in England and Wales recorded by the police was nearly five million in the year to March 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The figures mark a 10% rise compared with the same 12-month period a year earlier.
Police recorded 458,021 more offences, which the ONS said was partly driven by a rise in violence against the person, which soared 18% to 175,060 offences.
A long-term decline in the rate of theft was also reversed, rising 7% to 118,774 crimes, while public order offences jumped 39% to 78,697.
John Flatley, head of crime statistics for the ONS, said: "The latest figures show the largest annual rise in crimes recorded by the police in a decade.
"While ongoing improvements to recording practices are driving this volume rise, we believe actual increases in crime are also a factor in a number of categories."
Violence with injury jumped by 8% and violence without injury rose by a quarter, including rises in assault without injury.
Both knife and gun crime rose by more than a fifth on the previous year, with 5,800 more offences involving a knife or sharp instrument recorded by police, and an increase of 1,200 crimes involving a firearm.
The use of handguns in firearms offences has risen 24%, the ONS said.
There were also increases in the assault without injury category that includes modern slavery, which rose by 1,385 offences, and stalking, up 1,135 crimes.
There were 723 homicides recorded by police, an increase of 1,489 on the previous year, but this includes the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster, the ONS said.
When those cases are excluded, homicides rose by 9%. Robbery was also up 16%, or around 8,000 offences.
In a different measure, there were an estimated 11 million offences of crime covered by the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW), including new experimental figures of fraud and cyber crimes.
But the ONS said there was an overall 7% reduction in offences recorded by the CSEW, when fraud and cyber crimes were excluded - falling from 6.3 million to 5.9 million.
The CSEW asks victims about experiences of a range of crimes and does not include the same types as those measured by police recorded figures.
Alexa Bradley, the deputy head of crime statistics at ONS, explained why the CSEW and police records data appeared to show different trends.
"It is important to remember that the sources differ in the population and offences they cover," she said.
"At least half of the increase in police recorded crime series is in offences not covered by the survey including shoplifting, public order offences and possession of weapons."
Some 35,000 households are questioned for the CSEW and the response rate is 73%,
Mr Flatley added: "People are a bit black and white - 'Crime survey is good, police recorded crime is bad'. It's a bit more nuanced than that."
Rachel Almeida, Victim Support's head of policy, said: "This is a great cause for concern especially given the increase in recorded violent crimes, threatening behaviour and theft.
"These types of crime in particular can cause deep emotional, physical and psychological effects on victims.
"We must ensure that victims have the support and help they deserve to enable them to move beyond their ordeal and begin to rebuild their lives."