RATES of homicide, stalking and sexual offences have all risen in Gwent in the past year according to a new report which shows an “upward trend” in serious crime.

It also suggests the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis and the after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic could be partly behind the rises.

Such crimes have a “devastating impact on the lives of victims and families” and instil “fear in communities”, according to report author Jackie Williams, a senior public health specialist at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.

Police data reveals men aged 26-35 are most often involved in many types of violent crime, either as victims or offenders.

The report forms the collective response of Gwent’s councils and emergency services organisations for tackling serious violence and its underlying causes.

Together, they have to publish a plan to combat such crime under the Serious Violence Duty imposed by the UK Government.

Research in the region has found “significant increases in stalking and harassment, weapon related crime, rape and sexual violence… and youth violence in particular is showing increases”.

Gwent also recorded a five-year high in its homicide rate, which would work out last year as the equivalent of 15 homicides per one million people.

And the 426 reports of violent incidents in Gwent’s schools last year also mark a five-year high.

Each area of Gwent has “unique challenges” and parts of the region are among the most deprived in Wales – even relatively prosperous Monmouthshire has 9,500 households in poverty.