Devon Strategic Assessment 2014-15 – Executive Summary


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Executive Summary


This Devon Strategic Assessment has been based on priorities identified by the Peninsula Crime Analysts Network (Devon, Cornwall, Plymouth, Torbay and the Police) using a risk assessment process. The two outstanding priorities Domestic Abuse and Alcohol-related Harm stood out and these will be concentrated on for the next three years of the Assessment process. Other sections explore other topics of interest to the Crime & Safety Partnerships in the County.

The Assessment is subdivided into seven modules:

  1. Introduction and Setting the Scene.
  2. Executive Summary (this module)
  3. Overall Crimes & Main Threats (Domestic Abuse & Alcohol-related Harm)
  4. Emerging Themes (Child Sex Exploitation, Modern Slavery, Cyber Crime, Fraud & Mental Health)
  5. Monitored Updates (Anti -Social Behaviour , Reoffending, Drugs and NPS, Hate Crime & Preventing Violent Extremism)
  6. Monitored Themes (Road Traffic Casualties, Arson, Rape, Rural Crime, Welfare Reform, Restorative Justice & Have Your Say)
  7. Glossary & Appendices


  • Overall crime has reduced again – this year by 4% to just over 30,000 crimes.
  • Devon’s crime rates are generally favourable when compared nationally.
  • Violence against a Person and Sexual Offences have increased.
  • Exeter (and to a lesser extent North Devon District) are above the Devon average crime rates.

Cost of Crime

It is estimated that crime in Devon cost £387m last year.

Threat 1 – Domestic Abuse & Sexual Violence

Domestic abuse

  • Domestic abuse figures fell by 5% in last year.
  • 33% of incidents attended by the police had children present.
  • Third of incidents were from repeat victims.

Sexual violence

  • Crimes reported fell by 23 on previous year to 821.
  • Exeter appears to have the highest rates.
  • 493 victims were supported by SARC – 77% were 35 or under and 42% were 18 or under.

Threat 2 – Alcohol-related harm and health and well-being

Alcohol-related harm

  • 1,400 adults receiving alcohol treatment.
  • 25% of them live with children.
  • 23% suffer from mental health issues.
  • 15% also in drug treatment
  • North Devon & Torridge with highest rates of hospital admissions for alcohol related issues. 

Alcohol-related violence

  • Violent crime has seen an increase of 2% compared to 2013/14 (though the NTE equivalent has fallen by 2%)
  • Violence with injury represents 48% of all violent crime and Violence without injury represents 51%.
  • Violent crime peaks in the summer months and December and January.
  • Violent crime steadily increases from 3.00 p.m. onwards reaching a peak after midnight.
  • Although Devon has less that 3% of the population living in the top 20% most deprived areas, 15% of violent crimes occur in these areas.
  • Higher rates of violent crime are seen in both Exeter & North Devon (Barnstaple) which would coincide with the higher density of pubs, clubs and busy nightlife.
  • 77% of violence occurs outside the night time economy times (23% in NTE). 10% of the violence with injuries where alcohol involved appears in the non-NTE period and 9% in the NTE period. This suggests that violence in the NTE period is more likely to involve alcohol and injury. The Assault Related Injuries Database supports this data with similar percentages.
  • The Assault Related Injuries Database (ARID) indicates 68% of assaults are alcohol related.
  • ARID suggests that 47% of assaults are not reported to the police.
  • Male victims aged 18-30 account for 38% of ARID patients.
  • 84% of ARID patients were assaulted by body parts of the assailant(s).
  • Local Alcohol Profiles for England (LAPE) suggest that women in North Devon District suffer above average Mortality from Chronic Liver Disease.
  • LAPE suggests that Exeter City is above average in: crime attributable to alcohol, alcohol related to violent crimes and alcohol related to sexual crimes.

Emerging Trends

Child Sexual Abuse/Exploitation (CSA/CSE)

  • Child Sexual Abuse and Child Sexual Exploitation grouped together because of the similarities of the crime.
  • 49% victims are females aged 16-17.
  • 36% offenders are males aged 18-25.
  • Offenders likely to be male, white, unemployed, students or retired.
  • Suspected under reporting of boys for a variety of reasons.
  • Young Lesbian Gay Bisexual or Transgender persons are likely to be vulnerable.
  • Many possible locations where unsupervised young people congregate and could be targeted.
  • Education and training of all staff likely to meet young people in those locations.
  • Devon/rural issues – Lack of youth services/transport leads to ASB and then to NCP and/or drugs – then vulnerable. High number of Children in Care from outside Devon. Tourist destination.

Online Abuse

  • 88% Female victims.
  • Offender likely to be a stranger.
  • Speed of escalation surprisingly fast.
  • “Sextortion” blackmail a new trend.

Peer to Peer abuse

  • 87% female victims
  • 85% male offenders
  • Both under 18 but female likely to be slightly younger.
  • Males influenced by online porn.

Intra-familial Abuse

  • 68% female victims (therefore highest % of boys).
  • 93% male offenders
  • Blood relatives mostly but also step parents and very close family friends.
  • At home or on holiday.
  • 11m tourists in SW each year – very hard to spot offences.

Child Sexual Exploitation

  • Difficult area to understand.
  • Drug supply and abuse a controlling factor.
  • Good quality information and intelligence necessary.

Institutional Sexual Abuse

  • Victims vulnerable to adult in a position of trust.
  • Children in care particularly vulnerable
  • 39% of Devon’s Children in Care are from outside Devon.

Other Types of Sexual Abuse

  • Inappropriate Relationships – typically girls getting involved with a male aged 18-20
  • Stranger Offensives – offence takes place with no grooming or exploitation. 

Modern Slavery

  • New Modern Slavery Act – all encompassing and stiffer penalties.
  • 5 Areas – Sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, domestic servitude, organ harvesting and forced criminality.
  • More women victims than men.
  • Between ¼ to a 1/3 of victims children
  • 2/5 sexual exploitation
  • Not all foreign nationals – high numbers are from the UK.
  • Most UK, Albanian and Nigerians are females being sexually exploited.
  • Most Hungarian, Polish, Lithuanians and Latvians are males being labour exploited.

Labour Exploitation

  • Low-skilled manual, seasonal, casual work.
  • Vulnerable people – out of work, homeless, mental health issues, alcohol and or drug dependency.
  • Eastern Europe recruitment either via internet or by recruiters visiting villages.
  • In Devon likely places of work include farms, food preparation, harbours, fishing boats, restaurants, takeaways and car washes.
  • Likely to be put in caravans, sheds, flats, vans, basements etc – sub-standard, crowded and unsafe.

Vulnerable people – Travelling Community

  • Victims and offenders
  • If suspected they move on to another area.
  • Victims likely to be in poorer quality caravans away from the main group.
  • Victims given demeaning work usually performed by female travellers.

Vulnerable people – Street Homeless

  • Exploiters are likely to look for where the homeless congregate.
  • In Devon that could be charitable soup kitchens.

Vulnerable people – Missing Persons

  • Only certain types of people get reported as missing.
  • Those who go regularly missing have more chance of being exploited.

Vulnerable people- Asylum Seekers and Refugees

  • Plymouth is a base though those seeking work may commute into Devon
  • After a year waiting they are allowed to apply for work – food preparation is common.
  • Maybe scared to report exploitation in case it affects their application.

Domestic Servitude

  • 86% female (78% adults)
  • Nigerian and Filipino common nationalities
  • Hard to spot – may not be allowed out the house.

Sexual Exploitation

  • Difficult because a willing prostitute is not a criminal.
  • Mostly women victims but not exclusively.
  • Mainly male offenders but evidence that some women are promoted to “madams” and others recruit by providing drugs to prospective victims.
  • More likely victim nationalities are: Asian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Eastern European, Polish, Romanian, Thai and British.
  • More likely offender nationalities are: Albanian, Asian, British, Chinese, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Somalian and White European.
  • Temporary “pop-up” brothels are typical – moving on before authorities catch on – in Devon this could be hotels, B&Bs, holiday lets and caravan sites.
  • Back rooms of legitimate fronted shops are also possible – Restaurants, shops, massage parlours. 


  • 3 types of fraud for Trading Standards – doorstep crime, scams and food fraud.
  • Online shopping and auctions and computer software service fraud are the top two issues for public in Devon.
  • Doorstep crime – vulnerable people coerced into buying substandard and/or expensive services. 94 cases reported last year but under reporting expected by too embarrassed victims.
  • Scams – mailshots and phone calls – investment scams and prize draw most common – 1,500 complaints and £900,000 lost.
  • List of 3,000 suspected victims provided to Devon & Somerset – all have been written to and 70 high risk victims contacted.
  • Food fraud – tackling unauthorised slaughter of livestock to prevent it joining the food chain. Meat may be poached or rustled.

Cyber Crime/ecrime

  • 250 complaints about free trial scams where victims give their bank details and find they are tied into monthly regular withdrawals.
  • Online auctions e.g. cars being sold that don’t exist.
  • Phishing e-mails – conning victims out of their bank details.  

Mental health

  • Mental health problems cut across many types of crime as both victims and offenders.
  • Cut-backs in mental health expenditure have put pressure on what facilities that are left.
  • Homelessness audit 2011 revealed high numbers of mental health issues.
  • People with mental issues are likely to have high dependencies on alcohol and drugs – this is likely to make them commit acquisitive crimes (or violent crimes) and make them vulnerable to exploiters for modern slavery.
  • Many children and women escaping from domestic abuse and violence will have long-standing mental health issues.

Monitored Updates

Anti-social behaviour (ASB)

  • Signs that ASB figures may be levelling out after a long period of decreasing.
  • ASB peaks in July & August.
  • 76% of ASB is rowdy/nuisance behaviour.
  • Mainly occurs between 3 pm and 10pm.


  • Youth reoffending reduced by about a fifth.
  • New youth offenders have a higher percentage of complex issues.
  • Adult reoffending still being reorganised and unable to provide data for this document.

Drug use and new psychoactive substances (NPS) and health and well-being

  • Signs that drug use may be falling locally and nationally though nationally there has been a spike in fatalities the last two years.
  • 1,400 adults in effective drug treatment – 400 of them live with children.
  • 101 new NPS identified in Europe in 2014.
  • Devon and Torbay putting high level strategy in place to tackle NPS.

Hate crime and hidden harm

  • Crimes and incidents remain more or less stable – though under -reporting still an issue.
  • Emphasis on improving reporting numbers.
  • Victim care unit set up to support victims and link them to relevant 3rd sector organisations.

Preventing violent extremism

  • 21 referrals this year – reduction of 24 (-53%) on previous year – 1 case was adopted by channel.
  • Most referred for international terrorism (last year extreme right wing was largest group)
  • Most under the aged of 20
  • Most white British.
  • Mostly male.
  • About half referred by the Police.

Monitored Themes


  • Big increase in numbers reported this year – up by a third.

Road traffic casualties

  • Killed and seriously injured continue to gradually increase.

Deliberate fires

  • Gradual increase in deliberate fires mainly through secondary fires (could be linked to decline in ASB).

Restorative justice

  • Low initial take up but expected to increase.

Rural crime

  • Two types of thieves – opportunistic and organised.
  • Farms becoming more security conscious.

Welfare reform

  • Not fully implemented and no trends identified.

Have your say

  • Speeding traffic and ASB most important issues.
  • Farm crime and marine crime new issues.
  • Drug supply and use.