New figures reveal certain crimes have shot up in Dorset.

The latest police crime figures covering last year reveal offences involving theft, shoplifting, robbery, stalking and harassment, and possession of weapons have all increased compared with the year before.

There were 4,665 shoplifting offences - a staggering 44.9 per cent increase on the previous year - exceeding the national average of 36.5 per cent.

It's a crime which continues to rise in the county.

Dorset Police say this is ‘partly due to a number of ongoing initiatives’ as they continue to work with businesses to increase reporting and raise awareness.

There was a total of 17,109 thefts between January, 1 2023, and December, 31 2023 - 33.5 per cent of all crimes committed in the county. This was a 3.8 per cent increase.

Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Farrell, of Dorset Police, said: ”Many people believe shoplifting is essentially a victimless crime, but this is not the case. Retail theft is very costly for communities, businesses and the economy.

“We are working with partners and the local community as part of the national Clear, Hold, Build project, to tackle serious and organised crime and reclaim and rebuild neighbourhoods affected, making areas safer and increasing public confidence in the police and partner agencies.”

Robberies also rose from 381 to 455, an increase of 19 per cent, with police saying ‘a large number’ are linked to business premises and shoplifting and involve ‘young people who are known to each other’ or ‘individuals suffering from drug dependencies’ targeting others within their circles.

Mrs Farrell added: “While the crime rise may appear alarming based on the percentage, it relates to only a small number of offences and the risk to the wider public remains low.”

Another crime that saw an increase was that of possession of weapon offences which jumped by 16 per cent - an extra 47 offences.

Mrs Farrell continued : “Over the last few years the force has placed a real focus on diverting people away from knife crime and reinforcing the dangers of carrying knives through initiatives such as Op Sceptre, Op Scorpion and the ongoing partnership educational work carried out by our Safer Schools Teams.

“We also continue to run proactive operations to identify and search people suspected of carrying weapons with the key aim of preventing serious violence and keeping people safe.”

Stalking and harassment crimes are also up by 9.4 per cent, however, Dorset Police says there has been a ‘real drive’ to ‘promote awareness’ around the issue and this is reflected in the increased figures.

Mrs Farrell said: “We recently launched our stalking campaign as part of National Stalking Awareness Week, to encourage reporting and to support victims.

“We also continue to raise awareness of stalking and harassment offences internally with our staff and officers to ensure that victims are listened to, supported and investigations are conducted as effectively as possible.”

In general though, crime has remained at similar levels to 2022 and the county remains the 'seventh safest in England and Wales', police said.

There were 51,053 crimes reported in 2023 compared to 51,204 in 2022 - a 0.3 per cent drop - which is slightly under the national level of a 0.6 per cent reduction.

There have also been reductions in some crimes including a 4.4 per cent drop in violence with injury, 9.3 per cent fall in rape and serious sexual offences, 5.6 per cent drop in burglary and a 14.4 per cent decrease in vehicle offences.