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Police chiefs delighted as figures show Norfolk is the safest place in the country

PUBLISHED: 06:36 20 January 2012 | UPDATED: 09:42 20 January 2012

Simon Bailey, Norfolk Constabulary's deputy chief constable.

Simon Bailey, Norfolk Constabulary's deputy chief constable.

ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC © 2010

Norfolk’s reputation as the safest place in the country was reinforced last night by the release of new Home Office figures showing crime has fallen and continues to fall.

The figures, which show a 1pc reduction in overall crime between October 1 2010 and September 30 2011 from 43,115 to 42,697, also show a 25pc drop in anti-social behaviour with 11,000 fewer incidents from April 1 2011 to December 19 last year.

The significant drop in anti-social behaviour incidents, which make such a difference to people’s quality of life, have been heralded by police chiefs in Norfolk as one of the most pleasing elements of a set of overall statistics which show:

<t> Norfolk has a crime rate of 50 crimes per 1,000 population compared to a national average of 66.

<t> Out of 33 detection categories measured, Norfolk is in the top 10 highest detection rates in 26 categories.

<t> For serious acquisitive crime, Norfolk has the second fewest crimes with just six crimes per 1,000 population.

Simon Bailey, deputy chief constable of Norfolk Constabulary, said he is delighted with the figures which could be even more impressive next year with statistics since April last year showing 250 fewer burglary dwellings and 203 fewer thefts from motor vehicles.

He said: “These are really impressive figures. The force continues to do well and, whilst we will never be complacent, we are delighted that hard work and effective partnership working with local authorities and the public is paying off.

“The national average crime rate is 66 crimes per 1,000 population we have a significantly lower rate (50 per 1,000). We aim to maintain this and to continue to impact on the crimes that cause most distress and harm to people.

“We’re targeting those that are causing most harm within our communities and are making sure they can feel our presence and we know that there are a small minority who are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime and they will continue to be the focus of our attention.”

Meanwhile yesterday’s figures, which showed the number of crimes recorded by police nationally fell by 4pc to 4.1 million in the last year, also revealed the extent of crime in other parts of the region.

Suffolk, which Norfolk collaborates so closely with, had a total of 45,551 (a fall of 2pc) crimes last year, while Cambridge had 52, 689 (a 10pc fall).

The statistics demonstrate Norfolk’s continuing good performance in terms of driving down crime, something which Mr Bailey is rightly proud of.

He said: “We should bear in mind that Norfolk has been a low crime county for a number of years now. This means it is even harder for us to continue to reduce crime but that is what we are demonstrating today.”

One of the areas Mr Bailey is most satisfied with is the reduction in anti-social behaviour incidents, from 42,000 to 31,000, which he attributes to the great work of Operational Partnership Teams (OPTs) in association with district councils and Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs).

Mr Bailey said: “We’ve established Operational Partnership Teams in every district in the county. They are teams involving local officers, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and council staff who for the first time are really sharing data and working together to reduce the impact of anti-social behaviour.

“OPTs are led by an inspector who really works very, very closely with SNT officers and they will share information, local intelligence and look at the most problematic area for anti-social behaviour and target these areas. That has been a really serious contributor to the reduction we’ve seen.”

All categories show reductions with the exception of sexual offences which have risen by 19pc (16 crimes); drug offences which have risen by 11pc; burglary dwelling which have risen by 7pc and violence against the person which have risen by 3pc.

Mr Bailey said: “For the majority of crime categories, Norfolk has seen reductions. Where there have been increases, we have looked at why this may be the case and the analysis proves helpful in understanding the bigger picture.

“There are some categories of crime that people are reluctant to report. These are often related to domestic violence and we are actively working to encourage people to report these crimes so we can better understand them and, ultimately, take measures to break the cycle.”

Mr Bailey said increased reporting of sexual offences was a sign not only of greater confidence in the police, but also in the success of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) which opened in September 2010.

He added: “Equally, there are some crimes which are only reported as a result of positive action taken by police. These crimes are often the result of searches carried out by officers and include possession of drugs or weapons with intent to do harm.

“Crime is more complex than may first appear and therefore, like all statistics, we do need to fully understand what the numbers actually mean. We take pride in doing that because that is what helps us to best keep Norfolk’s people safe.”

Nationally, separate figures from the British Crime Survey showed “no statistically significant change” in the estimated number of crimes compared with the previous 12 months.

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