VIOLENT crime in the city has risen over the last year, amid warnings of an epidemic sweeping the country.

In the last 12 months, 4,040 violent attacks were reported in Oxford.

These are made up of crimes including grievous bodily harm (GBH), harassment and murder – which was one of the main factors behind the increase.

In the past year, from October 2018 to September 2019, there have been four murders in the city, compared to one in the previous year.

The latest was launched after the body of Emily Goodman was found in Foresters Tower.

Oxford Mail:

Foresters Tower murder investigation

In July another murder probe was launched when Graham Collier was killed after a fatal blow to the head on Cowley Road.

Only a month before that, the body of Safie Xheta was found with knife wounds on her neck – prompting police to open another murder investigation.

Oxford Mail:

The murder scene at Southfield Road.

In February, 22-year-old Luciano Dos Santos Almeida was killed on Southfield Road.

In total, over the last 12 months, police have recorded 16,620 crimes – five per cent up on the year before.

This puts the overall crime rate at 108 per 1,000 people in the city – compared to the national average of 89.

Police bosses have suggested the spike could be put down to changes to the methods of reporting and recording practises in the force.

Earlier this year TVP were dubbed ‘inadequate’ at recording crime after a damming report revealed it had ignored a suicidal woman’s call for help.

Nigel Chapman, an Oxford City Councillor who sits on the board for safer communities, said the numbers are ‘worrying’ and an increased police presence could go some way in tackling the rise.

He said: “Anybody who I’ve spoken to that’s been a victim or is at risk of violent crime, they say how it plays on you for a while after.

“While they have a victim support in place, and credit to Thames Valley Police and the crime commissioner – it’s still very frightening.

“It’s really worrying, the lack of police presence on the streets and the fact that there’s no deterrent for when people commit the crimes.

“Police presence is a problem – if people think they can get away with a crime because people won’t see it happen and they will go undetected, they are more likely to commit the crime.

“It’s more of a problem to have a reduction in neighbourhood policing – they are the intelligence.

“The new police will help – but it’s the speed at which they come through, we have quite a big turnover of police in Oxford – for various reasons like ill health and retirement. That number needs to stand still.

“You need to find 30 people to replace those who are leaving and then 30 people are new.”

Oxford is likely to get about 40 new officers in the first wave of Boris Johnson’s pledge to roll out 20,000 more police over the next few years.

Thames Valley Police Federation chair Craig O’ Leary warned the benefits of the promised new recruits would not be felt for some time.

He added: “The public also need to be aware that this is just replacing officers that our force had cut by this Government in the last nine years.”

Thames Valley’s extra allocation of 183 officers will take them to 4,388 officers – similar to the amount they had in 2015.

Other crimes recorded on the rise include:

• 567 sexual offences – a rise of 13.2 per cent.

• 183 robberies – where a weapon has been used as a threat – a rise of 12 per cent.

• 156 possession of weapon offences - a rise of 24.8 per cent.

An alarming 70 per cent of crime in Oxford is closed with 'no further action'.

The elected head of the force, the police and crime commissioner Anthony Stansfeld, said: “A rise in violent crime in Oxford is of huge concern to all of us and I am working hard with Thames Valley Police to address the issue.

“Recent crime figures show that we fare better than the national average for the number of crimes solved. Of course we will always strive to do better, which is why I hold Thames Valley Police to account on behalf of the public.

“There has been a change in the way these offences are being recorded by Thames Valley Police. This has led to figures for victim-based crime offences seeing an increase over this period. I can reassure the public that I am committed to tackling any rise in offences across the Thames Valley.

“I have recently awarded 27 organisations, from across the Thames Valley, more than £100,000 who are contributing to reducing reoffending in areas such as domestic violence and violent crime. Voluntary organisations play an important role in reducing violent crime across the region.

“Thames Valley Police continues to face an increase in both demand and financial pressures, and I was pleased to hear the recent announcement from the Home Office that Thames Valley will receive an extra 183 police officers for 2020/21. This will ensure that Thames Valley Police can continue to keep our communities safe and continue to protect the most vulnerable in the region.

“I don’t think we will ever be satisfied with the crime figures until we can solve every crime but we will continue to strive to support our communities in any way we can.”