VIOLENT crime in Hampshire saw a significant increase last year, according to new Home Office figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed there was a 27 per cent increase in possession of weapons, a 17 per cent rise in sex crimes, a 33 per cent hike in robbery and a 11 per cent increase in violence against the person.
There was also a total of 150 child grooming crimes recorded in Hampshire.
But despite the increase in crime figures, Hampshire police said these did not necessarily mean there was more crime being committed.
‘The increase in the reporting of offences should not always be seen as a negative issue,’ the constabulary said in a statement.
‘These sorts of increases can be a reflection of the greater confidence the public has in coming forward to speak to us. We have been very proactive, encouraging victims to report incidents.
‘Officers continue to engage with victims of crime and support agencies to help them build the confidence to come and talk to us.
‘We are continuing to focus on those crimes that cause the most harm to people in our communities, and most importantly, we are listening to our victims and investigating thoroughly the crimes they disclose to us.’
The worrying numbers of child grooming cases seen in the county is also a cause for concern.
The anxiety is seen across the country with the NSPCC taking the lead with its initiative #WildWestWeb campaign, which is calling on Culture Secretary Matt Hancock to bring in a mandatory safety code to regulate social networks to keep children safe online and help prevent grooming.
Tony Stower, NSPCC Head of Child Safety Online said: ‘These thousands of crimes show the sheer scale of grooming, where predators have either messaged their victim or gone on to meet them in person.
‘At present our government is only prepared to tackle grooming after the harm has been done and its forthcoming Internet Safety Strategy has no plans to prevent grooming from happening in the first place.
‘Culture Secretary Matt Hancock could change this and bring an end to the Wild West Web. I urge him to bring in regulation for social networks, backed by an independent regulator with teeth.’