POLICE claim Colchester is actually getting safer, despite statistics which appear to show violent crime has risen by a staggering 227 per cent.

The research, released by the Conservative Party, compares the number of recorded violent crimes against the person for 1999-2000 with 2008-09.

They reveal the figure has risen dramatically, from 789 a decade ago, to 2,578 last year, an increase of 227 per cent.

However, the research has been disputed by the police, as they compare periods in which crime data was recorded differently.

In 2002, the Government introduced the National Crime Recording Standards, to standardise how all forces record crimes.

Police say crimes which may have been classified as more minor, or not crimes at all, ten years ago, now come under the category of violent crime against the person.

Inspector Andy Fusher, from Eastern Division’s community safety team, which covers Colchester and Clacton, said a lot of work had been done across the area to reduce such crimes.

He said: “Latest figures show there were 471 fewer violent crimes against the person committed in Colchester in 2009, compared with 2007, and 154 fewer in Tendring for the same periods.

“There were 3,045 violent crimes against the person reported in the Colchester borough in 2007 and 2,578 in 2009.

“In the Tendring district, there were 2,235 in 2007 and 2,081 in 2009. These statistics are recorded in calendar years.”

Mr Fusher said the reduction had been achieved despite populations rising in each area.

He added: “There are an estimated 50,000 more people in Colchester compared with a decade ago, and Tendring has also had growth, where we’ve seen new developments, such as the Clacton Factory Outlet and Brook Retail Park.

“The number of people holidaying in the UK has also increased and Tendring is a popular destination.

“As the area has changed, so has our policing of it, and we are always looking for new and innovative ways to further reduce violent crime.

“Our hard work is reflected in the reduction of violent crime over the past few years in both Colchester and Tendring, and we will continue to take every step we can to ensure this reduction continues.”

In Braintree, violent crime has apparently doubled in ten years.

There were 724 recorded offences of violence against the person between April 1999 and March 2000, compared with 1,469 between April 2008 and March 2009.

However, Chief Insp Nick Lee, district commander for Braintree, said changes in the way the figures were recorded had to be taken into account, and added violent crime had significantly lowered in the past year.

He added: “We ensure we have officers out on patrol in busy commercial areas, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights, and we also work closely with partner agencies and local licensees.”

A spokesman for the Conservative Party said: “These figures came from the Home Office. The police are doing their best against a backdrop of bureaucracy and red tape in recording crime, enforced by this Government.

“Conservatives want to let police get back to fighting crime instead of filling out numerous forms, and free them up to tackle the booze-filled antisocial behaviour that’s blighting our towns and cities up and down the country.”