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Crime down in Watford but still serious
Crime in Watford has fallen during the last 12 months, but the town is still one of the county’s worst performing areas.
The latest statistics were discussed at the borough council’s community safety partnership task group meeting last Thursday.
Chief Inspector Nick Caveney revealed the “headline” crimes – vehicle crime, theft, violent crime and domestic burglary – dropped by a third in the past 12 months.
However, the town was Hertfordshire’s worst performing area in the crimes of theft from a person, religious or racial hate crime, alcohol related crime, and anti-social behaviour.
In fact, other than “deliberate fire”, Watford did not appear in the county’s top five best performing areas for any crime.
Councillor Asif Khan asked: “If you look at the statistics, Watford is the most violent, crime-riddled town in the county, what puts us at the bottom of the league tables?”
Chief Inspector Caveney said: “This is just a snapshot of data; actually we are in a very, very strong position. Our serious acquisitive crime, which includes robbery, burglary, and theft of vehicles, has the best reduction across the county for the year to date.
“Our night time economy is slightly different to anywhere in the county and that is probably where the volume difference comes.
“It’s important to recognise that while we do measure ourselves against other areas, they have slight differences.”
Last December, CI Caveney said there had been a four per cent reduction in all crime, but increases in violent crime and assault, by 14.5 per cent and 30.8 per cent, which he described as “a concern”.
He said the peak offending times occurred between midnight and 4am on Saturday, and Sunday and Tuesday mornings, and nearly half of all violent crime took place in the town centre.
In response, a raft of measures were introduced, such as the grading each night in terms of risk, with Grade A classified as lowest and Grade C highest.
To cope with a high number of Grade C nights in December, the police used drugs scanners, increased patrols and introduced faster custody arrangements.
There were also police dogs in the town centre from December 21, as well as horses and the electronic device mosquito which emits a high pitched noise and is used to drive people out of the town centre if there are problems.
Mayor of Watford, Dorothy Thornhill, said the drop in crime was a “good news story” and that comparing the town with others in Hertfordshire was not comparing “apples with apples”.
She added: “Watford will always be different because it is the capital of Hertfordshire.
“We have thousands more people in the town than any other in the county so we will have crime levels that are not commensurate with other places.
“I compare apples and apples. We’re not Bishops Stortford or even Stevenage; we’re Watford.”