CRIME in Southampton rose for a fourth successive year, documents have revealed, with more than 31,000 incidents in a 12-month period.

As part of a report complied for Southampton City Council, it was found that serious knife crime was the biggest offence to increase during the 2017/18 financial year, rising by 28.9% from 194 incidents to 250.

Hate crime was the second biggest riser, with 707 incidents, up from 567 the year before – a 24.7% increase.

Worryingly, the report also found that rape was the third sharpest rising crime recorded, with a 23.8% increase of incidents from 320 in 2016/17 to 396 in 2017/18.

In total, the city saw 31,589 crimes recorded during the year.

Itchen MP Royston Smith said the figures showed a “worrying trend”, with assistant Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Enzo Riglia claiming the issue is “not just a matter for policing” but “one that must be shared”.

Southampton City Council’s community wellbeing chief Councillor Dave Shields agreed that partners should work more closely together, adding that the increase in crime “has to be set against both a reduction in resource and the increasing demand from high risk priority areas”.

He added: “There are worrying signs that the upward trend [of hate crime] will continue in the lead up to and aftermath of Brexit.”

The report also revealed that the city saw 125.2 crimes recorded per 1,000 people during the 2017/18 financial year, which is well above the national average of just 82.4.

This is a 2.3% increase on the year before, but places the city third in a list of similar cities and areas within the Community Safety Partnerships – made up of local police, fire, health, and governing groups.

Crime in Hampshire – which excludes figures for its major cities, was recorded a rate of 80.6 per 1,000 people, down on the year before of 85.2.

Neighbouring Portsmouth placed above Southampton with a rate of 130.9, drastically up from a 2016/17 level of 120.6. Newcastle topped the 2017/18 list with 137.4.

The releasing of the report comes just after angry business owners in Shirley claimed that “crime has got ridiculous”, with more than 900 people signing a petition from group ‘Shirley Be Proud’ calling on Test MP Alan Whitehead to raise the issue in the House of Commons.

They say that “terrible” anti-social behaviour in Shirley High Street is affecting their businesses, which even caused Hampshire Constabulary to issued a two day dispersal order after 87 incidences in just five months.

This is something that was backed up by the report, which showed that anti-social behaviour was the largest recorded offence. Officers noted 11,419 incidents in the city during the year.

‘Violent crime’ – where the offender uses or threatens to use force upon a victim – was the second largest offence, with 10,300 incidents.

It was also found that more gun crime was recorded in the city than the year before, rising from 13 incidents in 2015/16 to 20 in 2016/17 and again to 23 in 2017/18. This is a rise of 68.3%.

Mr Smith said: “The increase in crime in Southampton over the past four years is a worrying trend, particularly the notable increases in sexual assault and knife crime. We know more needs to be done to tackle these ongoing issues.

“I have lobbied government for more resources for the police to allow them to invest more in front line policing and resilience.”

Mr Riglia added: “Tackling the increasing violence within our communities in the long term is not just a matter for policing but one that must be shared. It is just as much about tackling the root causes of crime as tackling the crime and the consequences of that.

“The commissioner and his team continue to work with all community safety partners to develop ways to stop and reverse this upward trend.”

The new figures were released just weeks after government announced that PCC will be allowed to raise their precept tax by a maximum of £2 a month for a Band D home

Hampshire and IOW PCC Michael Lane has confirmed he wants to bring in the rise, which he says will protect policing jobs, and increase constable numbers. The public consultation regarding the increase ended last Saturday (Jan 12).

However, it wasn’t all bad news.

Police offices recorded a 14.1% decrease in burglaries – both residential and non-residential – within the city. Drug offences (8% decrease), threats to kill (5.2%), and vehicles offences (2.1%) were the other types of incident to see a decline.

The report also looked at the crime levels for specific areas within the city.

It found that crime had increase within nine city wards, and fallen in seven.

The biggest rise came in Coxford, which recorded an extra 167 crimes in 2017/18, which is up 16% on the previous year.

Swaythling came in second with a 12%, 135 crime rise, followed by Portswood (7.6%, 102), and Harefield (7.4%, 91).

The Bargate ward – which is home to many of the city’s shops, as well as Westquay and Marlands shopping centres – recorded just a 7.1% rise in crime, although this equated to 441 incidents.

At the other end of the scale, Bitterne recorded the biggest reduction with a 5.9% decrease in recorded crime, followed by Sholing with 5.6%, Freemantle with 3.4%, and Millbrook with 3.4%.