Crime in the St Ives area has risen by 12 per cent in the past year, according to official figures.
Statistics from Police UK show there were 3,741 reported crimes in the St Ives area in 2017, which is 401 more incidents than in 2016.
The issue of crime was discussed at St Ives Town Council’s annual meeting on March 3, with residents concerned about the safety of the town suggesting that not enough was being done about the rise.
St Ives police officer, Sergeant Andrew Street, who was at the meeting to address the concerns, said that although there were not as many police on the ‘frontline’, officers now had to deal with paperwork as well as less visible crimes like online fraud.
The mayor of St Ives, Councillor Phillip Pope said: “I work with the police in St Ives, especially Sergeant Street and I know that they are doing what they can. Realistically, it is just a matter of budget, which they don’t have the money for.
“It is quite obvious from the meeting that people are worried about the crimes that are being committed.”
St Ives residents raised concern at the meeting about anti-social behaviour taking place in the town, as well as illegal parking.
Cllr Pope said: “It is worrying that there has been a rise in crime, however, not much can be done unless they have a bigger budget.
“I agree that we could do with having more police on the street, however, due to cuts, more officers have to deal with paperwork, so you might not physically see them, but they are still doing what they can to tackle crime.
“I have been told that the police do have targeted areas that they focus on, but it obviously isn’t enough for St Ives. I do agree that we need more police, but without the funding it isn’t possible.
“St Ives is still a lovely place to live, work and visit. Our crime numbers may have gone up slightly but in comparison to many other towns and cities, we have an exceptionally low crime rate. St Ives is a beautiful town and the very large majority of people who live here are lovely people. Unfortunately, in large groups you will always get one or two ‘bad eggs’ and sometimes these individuals can overshadow the good of the town.
“In St Ives, the rise in crime is noticeable but it feels a lot worse than it is because of the use of social media. When someone is burgled, they put it online and within minutes people are sharing, tagging and discussing. This is a good thing for crime prevention and awareness but it can also give the illusion that the problem is worse than it actually is due to the understandable emotional response from the victims and other people who have also been targeted. That being said, we are going through a mini crime rise at the moment compared to recent years and the SITC is working hard with the Police to ensure that this remains a priority.
“We can only hope, even with the Police not receiving the funding it needs, that the guilty parties are arrested, the victims are emotionally supported and the stolen items, especially those with a sentimental value are returned.
“We fully support our Police and know that they are tackling a very large issue with very limited resources.”
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said: “Changes in the National Crime Recording Standards (NCRS) led by central government have meant offences have to be recorded more readily as separate crime reports, as opposed to other processes that were historically used, which will have led to some foreseen increases in crime numbers. For example, they might have been previously recorded as anti-social behaviour or simply a suspicious incident.
“This said it is really positive that people feel safer to report offences to the police, regardless of whether these are current or historic in nature.
“Although every crime is important to us we must prioritise the most serious offences such as child abuse, child exploitation, counter terrorism, domestic abuse, burglary and serious sexual offences.
“Our focus is on safeguarding the most vulnerable, supporting victims of crime and robustly investigating and bringing offenders to justice.
The spoksman added: “We take all reports of crime seriously but have to assess whether there is a realistic chance of detecting each crime. This means that we will assess every crime reported to us and will make decisions based on the threat and risk involved and on the likelihood of arresting and convicting the offender.
“In many crimes, there are no witnesses, CCTV or forensic opportunities, which means there are no leads for the officer to investigate further.
“We would urge members of the public to help us reduce crime by taking any crime prevention measures they can, such as making their homes as uninviting as possible to burglars and leaving their bikes in well-lit, public places and secured with a good quality bike lock.”