The summer of 2016 may be over for Penarth – but it appears that the warm(ish) weather and the influx of visitors brought with it an unwelcome crime wave.
July 2016 figures presented to Penarth Town Council by South Wales Police show that crime was over 56% higher than it was in July 2015.
Penarth Crimes: July 2015 = 67: July 2016 = 106
In August 2016 South Wales Police say there were 102 recorded crimes in Penarth which – it’s claimed – is “exactly the same” as the 102 crimes committed in August 2015 .[PDN Note: In fact police told Penarth Council a year ago that in August 2015 there had actually been 83 crimes in the town ( not “102” crimes as is now reported). If the original “83” figure was correct, that would mean there has been a 22% increase in August crimes in Penarth, year-on-year]
Presenting the figures to councillors Inspector Gary Smart said the July increase in crime was – in part – explained by the fact that South Wales Police now record a “crime” in their statistics as soon as someone reports that a crime has taken place. This represents a change in the previous procedure [when a “crime” would be not be recorded until it had been investigated ] .
Inspector Smart also told councillors that another factor was that a prolific local burglar had been at “about on the streets” in July. This person had now been arrested (by Gwent Police).
Commenting on the apparent increase in crime in Penarth in August, Inspector Smart again pointed to the change in the way police crime figures were now being recorded and said that “perhaps sometimes the crimes aren’t as first believed by the public” . On the overall figures, Inspector Smart told Penarth Council “I think this is a good result and is probably better than last year”.
On Domestic Violence in Penarth, Inspector Smart said that he had been asked in an earlier meeting [by Cllr Janice Birch, Labour Stanwell] for a breakdown of figures. [There were 2 such cases in July and 4 in August.] He said the “offence rate in the Penarth area is relatively low – although every victim of domestic violence is a terrible thing” .
In the current month (October 2016) Inspector Smart said that there were 3 “on-going operations” under way. These included a national “anti-slavery” operation called “Operation Perceptional”. He was not saying there were any problems of that nature in Penarth but was something the police looked into, in order to ensure it did not exist here.
Other operations were “Operation Spectre “– which is an knife-crime prevention operation being conducted across the UK. The incidence of knife-crime in South Wales he said, was low but school liaison officers were going into local schools . He stressed that this was a preventative measure and emphasised it t was not the case that there were “people on the streets running around with knives” in South Wales.
Inspector Smart said he would personally be running a further anti-social behaviour operation across Penarth and the Vale of Glamorgan in the Halloween and Christmas period in which there would be “a lot more officers on the streets than normal”.
Acknowledging councillors concerns about motoring and parking offences, Inspector Smart said the force was also undertaking initiatives to improve “courtesy on the road”.
Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) raised traffic issues and reported the concerns of a constituent about parking in Penarth and on a case in which drivers had parked simultaneously on zebra-crossing zig-zags on both sides of the road . Cllr Williams asked whether it was possible in some way to “name and shame” the offenders and asked how the council could help the police in such matters.
Inspector Smart said he would personally respond to Cllr Williams’s ward constituent and would liaise with the Vale of Glamorgan Council [which is responsible for parking enforcement in Penarth] .
Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) said he would like to know what the law was in respect of disabled people parking on double-yellow lines . Inspector Smart said that disabled people are allowed to park on double yellows provided they do not cause an obstruction. When disabled drivers were issued with disabled driver badges, he said, they were briefed on where they could park.
The Mayor Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) asked whether this was a police matter or something to be dealt with by the local authority. Inspector Smart said it was “both”. The police could deal with highway obstruction – although it was often a matter of “driver education” .
Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) asked about the problem of drivers parking on corners so that “sight-lines” were obstructed for motorists emerging at road junctions. He said “selfish parking” was a matter of basic road courtesy – as the inspector had alluded to earlier . Inspector Smart said each case was “judgement call for whoever attends it”.
Cllr Rosemary Cook (Labour St Augustines) said she found there were problems in the quiet residential roads of Penarth where vehicles parked on the pavement leaving insufficient room for a wheelchair to get past . She said she had sometimes got “so incensed” she had taken the matter into her own hands and “stuck notices on the front of a car” – bearing the message “ could a wheelchair get by you?” . Cllr Cook said “We need to do something” .
Inspector Smart said each case should be taken on its merits – and it was up to the Highways Agency to create places where people could park.
The crime statistics for Penarth for July and August 2016 are as follows with the August figure in brackets. [PDN NOTE: The official police figures contain the confusing categories of “Violence against the person (Non Violent” and “Violence against the Person (Violent)”. The distinction is not explained. Also the categories of “Burglary” and of “Hate Crime” – the latter of which had been included in previous reports at the request of Cllr Neil Thomas, have not been included by Penarth Police in this set of figures] :-
- Criminal Damage = 5 July (4 )August
- Drugs = 2 (1)
- Other (i.e shoplifting) = 2 (2)
- Theft = 20 (24)
- Sexual Offence 2 (2)
- Robbery = 0 (2)
- Theft from motor vehicle = 3 (7)
- Theft of Motor Vehicle = 1 (1)
- Damage to vehicle = 5 (5)
- Violence against the person (Non Violent) [PDN Note:Official police categorisation] = 5 (11)
- Domestic related = 2 (4)
- Violence against the person (Violent) [PDN Note:Official police categorisation] = 5 (11)
- Domestic related = 2 (4)
- Section 39 Common Assault = 5 (10)
- Section 47 Actual Bodily Harm = 0 (0)
- Section 18 Grievous Bodily Harm= 0 (0)
- Causing death by careless driving (1) (August only)
Total Crimes = 67 (102)
PDN NOTE: The crime figures in the official police spreadsheet which was given to councillors at the council meeting do not add up to the totals given . PDN is asking South Wales Police for a corrected version .