Violent crime has soared in Stroud 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 1,978 incidents of violent crime in Stroud in the 12 months to March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That was an increase of 51% compared to the previous year.

At 16.6 crimes per 1,000 people, that was far lower than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 29.9.

One of the main factors behind the increase in Stroud was the rise in violence without injury, which rose by 100%, from 300 incidents to 601.

Offences of violence with injury meanwhile increased by 17% to 809.

There were also 568 cases of stalking or harassment, up by 79% on the previous year.

Overall, police recorded 3% more crime across England and Wales – there were almost 5.8 million offences in the year to March.

This excludes crime recorded by Greater Manchester Police, whose data was compromised after the installation of new IT software.

The increase was largely driven by rises in stalking and harassment and fraud and computer misuse, which both jumped by 12%.

However, the ONS said stalking and harassment figures may have been affected by improvements in the way police record crime, which could explain the large increase.

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

However, the National Police Chiefs' Council says its own provisional figures, which cover the four weeks to July 5, show crime has fallen by 14% compared to the same period last year.

This was the fourth update in crime trends the council has released since the beginning of lockdown restrictions, with this month's figures showing the smallest year-on-year drop so far.

Previous updates had shown recorded crime was down by 28% for the four weeks to April 12, 25% down for the four weeks to May 10, and 18% down in the four weeks to June 7.

While marked reductions were seen in residential burglaries, rape, vehicle crime and shoplifting, incidents of domestic abuse rose by 6%.

NPCC lead for crime, Chief Constable Andy Cooke, said: “The vast majority of the public continue to follow the rules in place to limit the spread of the virus, and as a result, we have seen sustained reductions in crime over the course of the lockdown period.

"It is no surprise that as more people are able to move around freely, we will begin to see movement towards previous levels. However, this is a gradual change."

Previous reductions in reports of rape appeared to be slowing, he added, suggesting they may soon return to 2019 levels.

He said: "This is likely to be a combination of increased opportunities for wider social contact and easing of restrictions, making it easier for victims to report rape and assault.

“Please report to us if you have been a victim of rape, assault or domestic abuse – wherever or whenever it happened.

"We will do all we can to investigate and there are many excellent organisations who can provide support and advice."

The total number of offences in Stroud fell by 19%, with police recording 5,645 crimes over the course of the year.

This puts the overall crime rate at 47.4 per 1,000 people, compared to a national average of 88.9.

Other crimes recorded in Stroud included:

200 sexual offences, a rise of 18%

1,905 theft offences, down 4%

781 incidents of criminal damage and arson, up 16%

173 drug offences, up 35%

45 possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, up 36%

415 public order offences, up 104%