Half of investigations by Norfolk police are now into violent offences and sex crimes, new figures have revealed.

Police-recorded violent crimes increased 10 per cent in the year to December 2021 from 19,291 to 20,003, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In total there were 30,958 offences involving violence, up from 28,030 in the previous 12-month period, while the number of sex crimes also rose 10pc to 2,996.

Together they now account for just over half of the 66,820 total crimes recorded in the county, though the figures exclude fraud offences.

Norfolk police has said a large proportion of the rises was associated with ‘behind closed doors’ crimes like domestic violence and sex offending.

The figures also include stalking and harassment, which saw the biggest rise up 26pc from 8,712 to 10,940.

Eastern Daily Press: Assistant chief constable Nick Davison.Assistant chief constable Nick Davison. (Image: Norfolk Constabulary)

Norfolk assistant chief constable Nick Davison said while some of the rise was down to changes in crime recording and legislation, they are “still under-reported crimes”.

“We take all reports of such offences very seriously, as we know the immense impact these behaviours have on victims,” he said.

“As part of our response, we provide specialised training to our detectives to help them bring such perpetrators to justice. We need to use all the different tools at our disposal to help us deal with this behaviour.”

Increases in Norfolk reflect the national picture with the number of sexual offences across England and Wales at their highest level in a 12-month period.

'A worrying combination'

Diana Fawcett, chief executive of the charity Victim Support, said: "We are seriously concerned that sexual offences have reached a record high for the second year in a row.

"Sadly, these figures reflect what we're seeing - the number of sexual violence cases referred to us have increased by a third since before the pandemic.

"We also know that court delays for victims of sexual violence are at an all-time high - this is a worrying combination."

Eastern Daily Press: The new temporary chief constable for Norfolk, Paul Sanford.The new temporary chief constable for Norfolk, Paul Sanford. (Image: Norfolk Constabulary)

Norfolk chief constable Paul Sanford has pledged extra resources for a domestic abuse perpetrators programme and to address the rising number of cases and low conviction rates.

Norfolk PCC Giles Orpen-Smellie has also made violence against women and girls a priority in his new police and crime plan.

Mandy Proctor, chief executive of Leeway, which supports abuse victims in Norfolk and Suffolk, said the Sarah Everard case had brought violence against women and girls into the spotlight.

“The reaction to the case highlighted the fact that domestic abuse, stalking, harassment, and other forms of violence against women and girls is all too common, with many speaking out about their experiences,” she said.

Eastern Daily Press: Mandy Proctor, chief executive of Leeway, the charity providing support to those experiencing domestic abuse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYMandy Proctor, chief executive of Leeway, the charity providing support to those experiencing domestic abuse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY (Image: Archant)

Mr Davison added: “We recognise how difficult it is for a victim of sexual offences or stalking and harassment to report it and engage with the criminal justice process required by the courts.

“Officers and staff will always work closely with victims in order to keep them feeling able to engage with the criminal justice system and we will always seek to explore and develop evidence to support them and take, where possible, the central burden away from the victim.”

Norfolk second lowest for burglaries

While violence and sexual offences recorded by the police have exceeded pre-pandemic levels, the ONS said other offences, including thefts and and robberies, remain at lower levels despite increases over the last nine months.

In Norfolk burglaries were down by 22.5pc, robberies and theft offences fell 9.9pc, though there was an increase in the theft of bicycles.

Knife crime also fell by 21.5pc and possession of weapons reduced by 5.5pc despite some high profile incidents including fatal stabbings and crimes linked to county lines drug gangs.

Mr Davison said: “The pandemic remained with us until midway through last year so this may still have had an impact on the figures, but the reductions also reflect the hard work of our officers and staff in what is a complex policing environment.

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk had the second lowest rate of burglaries according to ONS figures.Norfolk had the second lowest rate of burglaries according to ONS figures. (Image: Getty Images)

“It is extremely pleasing to see burglary continuing to decrease, at over 20pc in all categories, with Norfolk remaining as the county with the second lowest burglary rate in the country.

“This is to be welcomed given the significant impact it has on people who experience it.”