AM wants crime figures probe

THE jump in violent crime figures in Gwent can’t be explained on a technicality, the AM for Blaenau Gwent has said.

Alun Davies said a full and open investigation should take place to ensure the latest figures are accurate.

But there was a mixed response to yesterdays crime figures from other Gwent politicians, with Tory AM William Graham saying Gwent was probably "faithfully recording incidents".

Official police figures showed crime up by two per cent in Gwent during 2013 – with violent offences up by 26 per cent.

Gwent Police cited changes to how the latter offences are recorded as one reason behind the spike in violent crime.

Mr Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent and Welsh Government environment minister, said: “This is a staggering increase in violent crime and is of great concern.

“The Police and Crime Commissioner [Ian Johnston] has said publically he had doubts over previous crime figures and says that these latest figures report accurately the actual levels of crime here in Gwent.”

He said if that is the case “a full and open investigation needs to take place to ensure these latest figures are accurate.

“Changes in the recording practises... could account for a certain amount, but the drastic jump in violent crime cannot be explained away on a technicality.”

Blaenau Gwent council Labour leader Hedley McCarthy said: “On the face of it is disappointing that crime figures have gone up.

“But on the positive side we are getting an honest picture due to the amount of external scrutiny.”

John Griffiths, Labour Newport East AM and Welsh Government culture minister, said the figures had to be treated “with some caution”.

He said: “I think there’s been a well publicised change of systems for recording crime on behalf of the commissioner Ian Johnston.

“I don’t think it’s easy to be confident that we are comparing like with like in terms of comparing the figures with previous figures.”

William Graham, Tory AM for South Wales East, said he was surprised by the figures: “Everyone has gone down and we’ve gone up.

But he added: “I think it probably means that Gwent faithfully records incidents and there are commentators that said some of the other statistics in other forces are not quite as robust as they might be.”

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