Sexual offences, domestic abuse and malicious online messages are fuelling an increase in crime across Leeds, one of the city’s top police officers has said.
Leeds district commander, Superintendent Steve Dodds, said knife-related offences had also risen, amid a 7.6 per cent increase in recorded crime in the year up to September 2022.
That’s compared with figures from before the Covid pandemic.
Speaking at a meeting of senior Leeds councillors on Wednesday Supt Dodds said that though recorded incidents of anti-social behaviour have fallen, this was due to a change in how offences are recorded.
However, he said that West Yorkshire Police was expected to reach a “landmark” of having its highest number of officers since 2010 later this year.
Speaking at the council’s executive board meeting, Supt Dodds said: “We’ve seen a significant increase in recorded crime over the last few years, particularly coming out of the pandemic.
“Leeds in the year to date has seen a 7.6 per cent increase in crime. A lot of this is around serious sexual offending and domestic abuse, but also in non-injury violence and a lot of online malicious communications offences as well.”
Supt Dodds, who has been in his post since June last year, said Leeds remained an “extremely challenging” district for policing, noting the city itself is bigger than other entire police forces elsewhere in the country.
But the leader of Leeds’ Conservative group, Councillor Andrew Carter said he was confused by numbers indicating anti-social behaviour had declined.
He said: “Most members of the public and most members of council would say, ‘That’s not our experience’.
“Many of us in our own areas are seeing an increase in various forms of anti-social behaviour moving as far up as the carrying of offensive weapons and intimidating members of the public.
Supt Dodds replied: “Part of the reduction in instances of anti-social behaviour is down to the way we record and deal with some of those offences.
“We are recording more public order based offences rather than anti-social behaviour. We deal with the issues you raise around knife crime and violence reklated to that under different criteria.
“We’ve absolutely seen an increase in instances of knife crime, particularly in key areas of the city where our focus is.”