For the first time in four years, Hastings no longer has the highest rate of recorded crime in Sussex, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Figures released by ONS showed an offence rate of 99.3 out of every 1,000 residents in the town for the year ending March 2018 – down on Crawley’s rate of 104.5 per 1,000 residents.
However, total recorded crime in the town still increased by 1.6 per cent in the same 12 month period.
During that time, total recorded crime in Crawley increased by 9.1 per cent.
Colin Fitzgerald, lead councillor for the environment at Hastings Borough Council, said: “The news is obviously welcome and something we embrace, but with cautious optimism.
“We are rightly proud in Hastings of the efforts we have made with other agencies to ensure a joined up approach to tackling crime in the borough. We would also like to place on record our thanks to superintendent Steve Curry and his colleagues who continue to work closely with us and do an incredible job in trying circumstances when it comes to resources.”
However, councillor Fitzgerald said this good news could be reversed without continuous investment.
He added: “It is too early to suggest that this is part of a continued downward trend when it comes to recorded crime in Hastings. We remain concerned that an ongoing programme of austerity has essentially dwindled an ecosystem of front line resources to its minimum effectiveness. The social consequences of this ideology is now evident on our streets. We do not believe this is sustainable. “Inevitably, this good news will be reversed unless continuous investment across our public services takes place.”
Since March 2013 – when the offence rate was 72 out of every 1,000 residents – total recorded crime in Hastings has increased by 38 per cent.
However, since March 2003 – when the offence rate peaked at 153 out of every 1,000 residents – total recorded crime in the town has decreased by 35 per cent.
Responding to this year’s figures, Hastings MP Amber Rudd said: “I wholeheartedly welcome the good progress that is being made in Hastings regarding recorded crime.
“I am pleased that the increase in crime has dropped since last year. This is testament to the great work carried out by Hastings and Rother police forces under their district commander chief inspector Steve Curry as well as our Police and Crime Commissioner in Katy Bourne.”
The figures, which have collated total recorded crime in England and Wales since April 2002, revealed Hastings or Crawley as having the highest rate of recorded crime in Sussex for all but one year when Brighton (April 2010 to March 2011) was highest with a rate of 89 out of every 1,000 residents.
While total recorded crime in Hastings increased by 1.6 per cent in the 12 months to March 2018, reported crimes relating to criminal damage/arson and ‘other crimes against society’ both decreased during the same time period, the figures showed.
However, according to the figures, recorded violent crime, theft, sexual offences and robbery in Hastings each increased in the 12 months to March 2018.
Reported sexual offences in the town have almost tripled in the space of five years, the figures revealed.