Violent nettle crime ‘jaw-dropping’


Published: Monday 22nd June 2015 by The News Editor

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A police and crime commissioner has described examples of incidents his county’s police are having to record as violent crimes as “jaw-dropping”.

They include a man being hit with a biscuit and a child being brushed with a stinging nettle.

Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Stephen Bett recently asked the county’s Chief Constable to explain a 14% rise in crime as he suspected there was more to the figures than the bare statistics.

Mr Bett said: “Such statistics rarely tell the whole story and I suspect there is more to this rise than meets the eye. An important part of my job as PCC is to challenge the chief constable on behalf of the public and I think the people of Norfolk would like reassurances over what’s behind this rise.”

The PCC was told that due to a change in the way the force had to record certain crimes, numerous incidents were now falling into the violent crime category and he asked the force to provide him with examples.

Mr Bett said: “You could not make this up – it’s jaw-dropping. I am sure people will find these examples of what the police are having to record as violent crime hard to believe to say the least. I frankly couldn’t believe what I was reading. Is it any wonder we have seen a rise in recorded violent crime in Norfolk if these types of incidents have to be logged?

“The last thing I want to do is to trivialise any incident where there is a victim, but I am struggling to see how someone being hit by a biscuit or brushed by a stinging nettle fits anyone’s idea of a violent crime. I think people will also be surprised that text messages are ‘violent’.

“There is a danger that when people see a raw headline that ‘violent crime is up in Norfolk’ the fear of crime could rise. That is why I feel it is important to highlight this issue and make people aware.”

He gave the following examples of incidents that Norfolk Police had to record as violent crime in the last 12 months:

:: A member of the public reported seeing a mother slap her three-year-old child on the hand as they left a shop. The police investigated and it transpired the child had taken a bar of chocolate from the shop and hidden it in their clothes. The mother gave the child a single slap on the hand and made them return the chocolate bar to the shop. The police had to record this as an assault by the mother on the child and shoplifting by the child.

:: A young child was bought a boxing glove by his parents. He was swinging it round and caught his small sibling with it. This was recorded as actual bodily harm (ABH).

:: A woman threw a biscuit at a man which hit him leaving a small red mark. This was recorded as ABH.

:: Two children were playing together and one brushed a stinging nettle across the other’s arm. This was recorded as ABH.

:: Two children were playing together doing wheelies on bikes. While doing this, one of them rode into his friend. This was recorded as an assault.

:: Several members of staff were scratched at a care home. Each scratch was recorded as an ABH so there were five priority violent crimes out of one incident.

:: The police used to deal with “malicious communications” as non-crimes. They relate to any offensive text or letter sent to people and now an extra 183 offences have fallen in to the volume violence band since April. The vast majority of these involve people sending texts. This could add more than 1,000 violent crimes a year in Norfolk.

Published: Monday 22nd June 2015 by The News Editor

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