Heatwave led to 11% rise in crime levels, say police
The glorious sunshine over the summer might have boosted the tourist economy but it also contributed to a rise in crime, say police.
Criminals made the most of a sunny weather, particularly in tourist towns such as Newquay but also to a lesser extent in cities such as Plymouth.
The effect of the weather on crime was discussed with Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg in his first public meeting with his chief officers.
Crime levels rose by 11.1% as "PC Rain" stayed at home, reversing a long-term downward trend over the summer months, the meeting heard.
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Chief Supt Andy Boulting, the Plymouth police commander, Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, and David Zinzan, the deputy Chief Constable faced questioning by Mr Hogg at a public meeting, in the Council Chamber in Plymouth.
Chief Supt Boulting said: "There will probably be a weather-related element because of more people coming into close contact."
There was 78% more sunshine in June and July compared with last year, and rainfall was down 73% on last year. He said that the figures were made more dramatic by last year's good performance.
The washout 2012 summer also saw the London Olympics and the Queen's Jubilee.
"There was barely a bump in the road last summer," Chief Supt Boulting said. He said the seasonal impact was less in Plymouth than in tourist towns like Newquay.
And he said a sharp rise in crimes like shoplifting could not be explained by the weather.
There was some anecdotal evidence that some people had been shoplifting to feed their families, the meeting heard.
Chief Supt Boulting said that across the force positive "outcomes" – which includes arrests, cautions, and restorative justice – appeared to be falling.
Devon and Cornwall Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer defended his officers.
"Some forces chase crime stats and some chase an improving society and they are not the same thing," he said.
He said his focus was on 'harm' before acquisitive crime.
"Chasing shoplifters is important but with limited resources we have to make a choice of emphasis on crimes against property and crimes against people."
Mr Hogg said he wanted to hear the public's views about the value of holding his meetings in public.
He plans to include public questions in future forums.
"The public need to play a greater part in the policing of society. We need the public to back us up."