There have been 28 reported cases of “Stalking and Harassment” within in Penarth in the last 2 months of 2018 – putting this type of offence at the top of the table of local crimes – town councillors heard last night.
It’s not possible to compare the figures for “Stalking and Harassment” with the same period last year as no data for this type of crime was collected under this heading in previous years.
Inspector Andrew Rice, who is in charge of policing in Penarth and the Vale of Glamorgan, told Penarth Town Council that it had been a “fairly uneventful couple of months” .
There had been 91 crimes [of all categories] committed in the town in November – 1 fewer than the same period last year. (In the South Wales Police area as a whole, a total of 9,339 crimes were reported in November).
In December, there had been 92 offences committed in Penarth – 4 fewer than in the same period last year. (There were 8,109 crimes reported across the whole of South Wales in December) He said Penarth remained a “very low crime area” in comparison with the rest of South Wales .
However Inspector Rice said he preferred to look at the overall level of crime in the town throughout the year – which, he said “isn’t such a good story” . Over the full 12 months of 2018 there had been an increase of 109 in the total number of offences committed in Penarth compared with 2017. That represented a rise of 13%. and was in line with a UK-wide rise in crime. Inspector Rice said “It’s not good news – but it’s not a disaster either”.
The offence of “Rape” which had been recorded in November’s figures was, he said ,“not a rape” – although “technically it was”. Giving the background, Inspector Rice explained “It’s a girl who is under the age of consent and who was in the Care System, who was engaged in sexual activity with a male known to her. She would not disclose to us who that individual was. ” Inspector Rice said that “technically this was a crime on behalf of the male” – but he did not want to create the fear that it was ” a stranger-rape or anything like that. It’s not a general threat to the public”.
Noting the the appearance of “Stalking and Harassment” in the statistics, Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said “I’m not quite clear what this offence is” .
Inspector Rice said “Stalking and Harassment” used to be included in the “Violence without Injury” category . These were offences under the “Harassment Act” which could “range from quite serious matters of domestic abuse – and strangers stalking somebody they become infatuated with – to some very minor issues where somebody’s posted something on Facebook or social media – which gets recorded as a crime.” He said the majority of such cases would be of the “less serious” category. Inspector Rice confirmed to Cllr Turner that such incidents WERE being recorded as “crimes” and much of this would be “internet based” .
Inspector Rice said “We get a lot of reports from members of the public about stuff on social media that they don’t like . If they ring up and say they don’t like it, or find it offensive or find it harassing, it is recorded as a crime“. Inspector Rice said the Home Office Rules require that anything that someone reports as a crime is recorded as a “crime” – and remains as a “crime” until or unless the police investigate it and find that it is not a crime.
Cllr Turner asked whether more information could be provided as to just what was now being regarded as “Stalking and Harassment” – and observed that the police list of the various crime categories “seemed to change quite frequently”. He noted that the category of “Domestic Violence“ now seemed to have disappeared from the list . [ PDN Note: Former Penarth councillor Janice Birch had pressed South Wales Police for years to include this category in local crime – which they eventually did. It has now disappeared].
Pressing home his point, Cllr Turner said that last year councillors had been looking at an increase in “domestic violence per se” and were asking for figures “to try to understand whether there was a problem or not”.
Inspector Rice asgreed that there was a problem with domestic abuse and said there were domestic elements in a number of crime categories such as “Stalking/Harassment” or “Violence Without Injury” . He said “In some ways an increase in that is an encouraging thing because it means victims are more comfortable to come forward and report those matters”.
Cllr Gary Allman (Conservative St Augustines) noted problems reported by a constituent regarding lorries parking on pavements at Tesco Express near the HSBC Bank . He also thanked Inspector Rice for the work done on speeding in Penarth Marina and the presence of a police speed camera on Terra Nova Way . Constituents in the Marina had asked him whether they could put their own 30 mph speed-limit signs up.
Inspector Rice said he did not think residents could put speed-limit signs up on the highway unless they were approved by the Highway Authority.
On the Marina speeding issue Inspector Rice said he would have having a meeting with Mike Clogg of the Vale of Glamorgan Council at the end of the month – however there was, he said, “no history of injury and collisions” on Terra Nova Way .
He did not think Terra Nova Way was long enough for an average-speed camera to work – a static speed camera would be “more appropriate”. However he noted that where there is evidence of speeding and a community convern there are occasions where a camera can be installed. Of 100 vehicles speed-checked earlier this month 14 had been exceeding the speed limit.
Inspector Rice introduced his colleague Samantha Johnson who will be dealing with traffic policing matters. Inspector Rice told councillors that South Wales Police no longer deal with matters such as parking on double-yellow lines which are now the exclusive preserve of Vale of Glamorgan Council traffic enforcement officers. They can, however, still deal with anyone parking on pedestrian crossing zig-zags.
CRIME STATiSTICS FOR NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER 2018
- Violence with Injury November 7 December 17
- Violence without injury November 7 December 21
- Stalking and Harassment November 18 December 10
- Rape November 1 December 0
- Other serious sexual offences November 2 December 0
- Robbery November 0 December 0
- Residential Burglary November 4 December 3
- Business and community burglary November 1 December 0
- Vehicle offences November 5 December 7
- Shoplifting November 9 December 6
- Bicycle theft November 1 December 2
- Shoplifting November 9 December 6
- All other theft offences November 11 December 2
- Criminal damage November 10 December 11
- Possession of Drugs November 2 December 0
- Public order offences November 10 December 10
- Miscellaneous crimes against society November 4 December 1