Violent crime is up in Cumbria - and gangs and drink are fuelling figures

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Violent crime is up by nearly eight per cent in Cumbria - with organised gangs and drink-fuelled trouble named as factors.

Police chiefs say alcohol has played a part in the latest figures and efforts are ongoing to tackle fights, assaults and stand-offs in town centres.

Some of the violence is also connected to organised crime groups, using brute force to enforce their illegal operations.

Methods used by police to deal with drunken troublemakers include filming their actions on body cameras - then showing them the footage when they have sobered up.

We have some violence offences connected to organised crime groups

In the year up to the end of August, crime across all categories rose by 2.5 per cent compared to the year before.

But there were drops in a number of areas, including theft, robbery and anti-social behaviour.

The county's assistant chief constable, Mark Webster, spoke about the figures at a meeting of senior crimefighting figures.

He said nationally there had been a much larger increase in crime and Cumbria's figures were lower than other similar forces.

He also said about 70 per cent of the violent crimes were "offences without any injuries" or "low level" incidents.

"Many of these offences are affected by drink," said Mr Webster.

 Mark Webster, assistant chief constable

Mark Webster, assistant chief constable

"Drink forms a large part of a number of the offences. Much of it is based around violence in town centres."

He said hotspots were identified and there was targeted work ongoing, including using CCTV.

"Some work reducing violence is connected to serious and organised crime," added Mr Webster.

"We have some violence offences connected to organised crime groups.

"There will be some violence associated with their criminality."

He pointed out a number of crime groups with links to Merseyside had been smashed.

Violent crime covers a wide range of offences.

These include minor assaults - such as pushing and shoving -and harassment and abuse where there is no physical assault involved.

But it can also stretch through to wounding, manslaughter and murder.

The rise in Cumbria included 568 extra offences - taking the total to 7,879 crimes.

Work was done, said Mr Webster, around pubs and clubs and preventing trouble on the streets.

Violent crime drew "an awful lot of police effort", he added.

"There are all sorts of initiatives that show a whole breadth of police response," said Mr Webster.

"Body worn video is used regularly.

"Once the drink has worn off (those involved) are shown the footage of their own behaviour."

 Peter McCall, police and crime commissioner for Cumbria

Peter McCall, police and crime commissioner for Cumbria

The meeting was one of the regular public accountability conferences held by county crime commissioner, Peter McCall.

He said: "While we are at the lower end of the spectrum we are not complacent about this."

The meeting was held at the county force's Carleton Hall headquarters, near Penrith.


Those other crime figures

Other results were also revealed in the crime figures.

Theft was down by one per cent, while vandalism and arson was up by 2.4 per cent.

There was a continued upward trend in reported rapes, which climbed by 23 per cent.

Robbery was down by 12 per cent, said the statistics.

Hate crime rose by 10 per cent. Public disorder was down by eight per cent.

Anti-social behaviour dropped by nearly three per cent. Domestic abuse was up by three per cent.

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