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Crime falls to lowest level since 1998
CRIME is at the lowest rate Oxfordshire has seen in 15 years.
Thames Valley Police statistics released yesterday revealed the number of crimes recorded in the county has fallen three per cent, meaning there were more than 1,100 fewer victims in the last financial year compared to the year before.
The crime rate – the lowest since new records began in 1998 – has been achieved as the force cut £55m from its £386m budget.
Last night senior police officers were unable to guarantee crime would keep falling if Government cuts deepened.
But Deputy Chief Constable Francis Habgood vowed the force would do all it could to keep fighting crime.
The senior policeman also defended the accuracy of the figures and said Oxfordshire was a safer place than 15 years ago. He said: “It doesn’t help anybody to lie about the figures.
“It is really important the public has confidence in the police and it is important we know what is happening so we can deploy our resources based on those figures.”
He said a rise in sex crimes across the force could be explained by an effort to get victims to come forward.
An independent audit in 2011 found the force to be the country’s most accurate at keeping figures.
Crime in Oxford fell three per cent between April 1 last year and March 31 with household burglary dropping 22 per cent.
Chief Insp Yvette Hitch, deputy area commander for Oxford, said although the team was working in times of austerity it was sharing the burden with other agencies.
She said: “The cuts make you think about what actually needs to be done, what would be nice to do, and what can’t be done. The focus is on what needs to be done.”
In the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire, crime fell 0.2 per cent, and area commander Superintendent Andy Boyd said the result was a testament to the hard work of officers and staff.
He said: “It is very simple – crime is committed by a small number of people. The more successful you are in catching those, the more you will be successful in reducing crime.
“The challenge for me now is to maintain the level of performance we have whilst maintaining levels of confidence and trust in the police.
“This not just about numbers, this is about how the public view the police locally.”
In West Oxfordshire and Cherwell, crime fell five per cent. When asked about the threat of further cuts, area commander Supt Colin Paine said: “It is going to be a challenge to keep reducing crime indefinitely but it is critical we do all we can to reduce crime.”
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