CRIME in Hampshire is at a new low despite the county’s police force having less officers, according to figures released today.
A report by the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary found that the police are being more efficient, with a drop of crime by 16 per cent, although the Constabulary will have around 12 per cent fewer officers by 2015.
This level of crime is the lowest since the Crime Survey for England and Wales began in 1981, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Eastern Region, Zoë Billingham, said: ‘Hampshire Constabulary has a more difficult financial challenge compared to many other forces as it is already an efficient and low cost force. It has responded very strongly to the challenges of the spending review: reconfiguring its workforce; embracing technology to support frontline officers and collaborating with other forces and local partners.
‘Crime has fallen in Hampshire at a greater rate than most other forces. The combination of robust planning, a good track record in delivering savings, a strong commitment to innovation and partnership working and high levels of crime reduction gives HMIC confidence that Hampshire has positioned itself well to manage further reductions.’
Hampshire’s deputy chief constable Craig Denholm said: ‘All police forces have faced an enormous challenge over the last few years and continue to do so. Throughout this time, Hampshire Constabulary has remained committed to protecting our communities from harm and providing an excellent service to the public.
‘Ultimately, we recognise that it’s the people and partner agencies who report crime, provide information and assist with our enquiries who are key to our success which is why putting victims and communities at the heart of everything we do is paramount.’
Not all the figures showed a decline in crime, with a two per cent rise in reported rapes, thought to be a knock-on effect of the Jimmy Savile investigation, according to the ONS.
Theft from a person has risen by nine per cent and fraud has also risen by 27 per cent.
An additional one million offences - which are not included in the police figures - were dealt with by the courts in the year ending December 2012. These cover less serious crimes such as speeding offences.
The county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes added: ‘Against a backdrop of tough economic conditions and government cuts, crime across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is, for the six consecutive year, still falling.
‘The HMIC report also notes that crime has fallen across our two counties at a greater rate than in most other areas. Over the first two years of the spending review, recorded crime fell by 16 per cent and public satisfaction was at 83.4 per cent. This highlights how Hampshire Constabulary staff are working hard to ‘protect people and places’.
‘The force is responding well in challenging financial times, and has managed to protect the service it provides. This has not been easy to achieve and the organisation remains under considerable pressure. Although we will continue to find innovative and cost effective ways of operating into the future, we are being forced to consider the question of what police service we want, and indeed what we can afford.’
Hampshire Constabulary has identified that it needs to save £54.2m over the four years of the spending review.
Victim satisfaction was at 83.4 per cent which is slightly lower than the figure for England and Wales.