VIOLENT crime has soared in the Cotswolds over the last year, despite an overall drop in recorded offences.

But with no official crime statistics yet published for the coronavirus lockdown period, police chiefs say their own figures show overall crime remains far below normal levels.

Gloucestershire Constabulary recorded 1,159 incidents of violent crime in the Cotswolds in the 12 months to March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That was an increase of 56 per cent compared with the previous year.

One of the main factors behind the increase in Cotswold was the rise in violence without injury, which rose by 102 per cent, from 179 incidents to 362.

Offences of violence with injury meanwhile increased by 25 per cent to 475.

There was also one homicide – a category which includes murders and manslaughters. In the previous 12 months, there were none.

There were 320 cases of stalking or harassment, up by 73 percent on the previous year.

The ONS said crime figures were largely unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic, as the period covered was mostly pre-lockdown.

The total number of offences in Cotswold fell by 12 per cent, with police recording 3,955 crimes over the course of the year.

This puts the overall crime rate at 44.4 per 1,000 people, compared with a national average of 88.9.

Other crimes recorded in Cotswold included:

98 sexual offences, a decrease of two per cent

1,755 theft offences, down nine per cent

546 incidents of criminal damage and arson, up two per cent

64 drug offences, up 10 per cent

28 possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, up 155 per cent

229 public order offences, up 97 per cent