THE number of crimes recorded in Colchester increased by more than 16 per cent in the past year, latest figures have revealed.

Ahead of a meeting chaired by police, fire and crime commissioner Roger Hirst set to take place today, statistics have shown there were 16,126 crimes reported in the borough between September 2017 and the end of August this year - an increase of 2,320 offences compared to the same period the year before.

Types of crimes which increased the most are stalking and harassment where there were 563 extra offences, violence without injury where they were 379 more incidents and there were 132 more sexual offences reported.

The levels of house burglaries, anti-social behaviour and motor vehicle thefts all decreased and the report said month-by-month figures for 2018 showed crime was now decreasing.

According to the report, Colchester’s growing population, more reporting and changes in the way some offences are classified has led to the increase.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Colchester is the fastest population growing district outside of London with an estimated population of well over 200,000 and expanding.

“The increase in public confidence to report crimes has been evident with police and partners providing more and more support, help and avenues for people to do so, particularly through online availability.

“Changes made by the Home Office in the type of incidents that are recorded as crimes for example, offences of malicious communications - such as abusive text messages, emails or social media posts - which were previously recorded by the Home Office as non-crime investigations are now classified as harassment which has seen stalking and harassment offences increase by 51.8 per cent as a direct correlation.”

The increase in sexual offences has been attributed to a rise in anonymous third parties informing police and historical abuse victims coming forward years later following coverage of similar high-profile cases.

Police believe part of the success in reducing house burglaries is because of a tactic called Fusion used in Colchester where officers from all departments come together to target known suspects.

Since November last year, 220 wanted offenders have been tracked down.