Crime levels in Kirklees appeared to have shot up this year.

But police have said the figures are misleading due to new methods of recording crimes.

Compared to last year, assaults with injury have leapt by a shocking 50%.

More than 300 cases were recorded in August, with levels exceeding 250 cases every month since March. Last year there were generally fewer than 200 cases per month.

Meanwhile, vehicle crime surged by 22% between July and September this year and burglaries increased by 6%.

Overall, Kirklees is ranked fourth best in terms of ‘total crime’ – a slip from second best – against the 15 other comparable areas used by police to benchmark crime.

Kirklees’ top officer Chief Supt Steve Cotter said new crime logging policies meant a larger amount of crimes were included in the figures.

He told members of Kirklees Community Safety Executive that lower level crimes were now included as assault with injury or robbery.

And he said that analysis showed that the “chances of being a victim of burglary has not increased.”

He told members of the Executive: “Are you more likely to be at risk of crime now then you were 12 months ago? I would argue that you are not.”

Chief Supt Cotter said raids by thieves on sheds and non-domestic premises were a problem and a specific team was working on it.

And he conceded that higher levels of vehicle crime was due to thieves taking motorbikes, quad-bikes and 4x4s.

“It’s up compared to last year but it’s still a 60% reduction from 10 years ago,” he said. “What we’re finding recently is we’re not getting vehicles back as quickly as we used to do.

“In the rural areas we’re getting a lot of 4X4s taken.

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“A lot are taken for parts and some are easier than others to take. But the biggest one is motorbikes and quads that are getting lifted up and put into vans.

“A lot of those are going out of the district quite quickly.

“People are pulling up with real confidence and pushing them into a van and, to be fair to the public, it doesn’t always arouse your suspicion.

“But we’ve had some good intelligence around where they’re getting broken down.”

Speaking to the Examiner after the meeting, Det Chief Insp Paul Jeffrey who is in charge of Kirklees CID, said they were confident they had smashed a car parts gang after three raids on garages in the Dewsbury area.

The busts, including one in Calder Wharf Mills industrial estate in Ravensthorpe on December 1, uncovered 30 stolen vehicles in various states of dismantling.

“We’ve significantly disrupted organised criminal activity,” he said.

“I’m confident now we’ve done that we will see vehicle crime figures fall.”

Det Chief Insp Jeffrey said there were 3,000 fewer burglaries than three years ago but admitted the reduction had now “plateaued”.

On violent crime he explained that police would now record an assault, even if the victim had only received verbal abuse.

The change, which was phased in over the past 18 months, reflects the emotional trauma of victims.

An assault would also still be recorded even if a victim decides they are okay by the time police arrive.

Another change has seen people who were fighting in the street arrested for public order offences instead of the lesser offence of breach of the peace.

Det Chief Insp Jeffrey also explained a rise in robberies last June as low level drug dealers “ripping off” their clients.

“It’s a pretty static picture on robberies,” he said. “There’s less than one a day for the whole of Kirklees.”

In unrelated investigations, police would like to speak to the people pictured in the image gallery below. The people pictured in the images may be witnesses as well as suspects. If you recognise anyone, contact police on 101 quoting the reference number on the image caption.