According to the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) crime figures released on Thursday January 26 2023, Devon and Cornwall remain one of the safest places to live and visit in England and Wales.

The statistics report that overall crime rose by 10.6 per cent in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly during the 12 months to September 2022, which is lower than the national average rise of 12.3 per cent, and 1.3 lower than Wiltshire, which ranks as first place for the lowest total number of crimes in England and Wales.

Compared to statistics released in the same time period in 2020 and 2021, a rise in crime was expected as the country was subjected to national and regional COVID-19 lockdowns. When compared to pre-COVID crime levels in 2019, Devon and Cornwall has seen an increase of just 1.4 per cent.

Deputy Chief Constable Jim Colwell said: “These figures are a good indicator of where we need to make improvements to tackle crime across Devon and Cornwall.

“There has been a 19.2 per cent rise in reported sexual offences compared to the same time the previous year. Tackling violence against women and girls remains a priority for the Force, and we are continuing to encourage victims to report crimes. We are committed to preventing these offences, ensuring that victims are fully supported and that crimes are thoroughly investigated.

“We continue to work on making improvements in bringing sex offenders to justice, including our work with the national Operation Bluestone Soteria team to review our response to rape and sexual offences. This work will ensure that we provide the highest possible level of service and standards of investigation when tackling violence and sexual offences against women and girls.”

Victim-based crime in Devon and Cornwall has risen by 11.8 per cent. Theft from the person and shoplifting saw the biggest increase and have risen by 49.1 per cent and 28.8 per cent, respectively.

This increase in theft may potentially be due to the cost-of-living increase and the financial difficulties people are currently experiencing.

Deputy Chief Constable Jim Colwell continued: “We acknowledge how distressing it is to be a victim of burglary or theft, and we will continue to develop our response in tackling these crimes.

“Despite increases, as a Force we have some of the lowest crime rate of in these offence types. Whilst theft from the person has a 46.9 per cent increase, this number translates to 592 crimes within that 12-month period.

“Theft from the person has a crime rate of 0.3 per 1,000 population, and whilst we have seen an increase compared to previous statistics, our national position has dropped to being the fourth lowest in England and Wales.

“Whilst these figures are one measure of performance, public confidence in policing from our communities is equally important and we appreciate their support as we continue our work to tackle crime that affects our communities in order to keep them safe.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Alison Hernandez, said: “I am pleased to represent the people of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly with a police force area which has consistently achieved one of the lowest recorded crime rates in the country. This has been delivered through our largely law-abiding residents and visitors alongside many years of close collaboration between policing, partners and the communities we serve.

“However, these figures tell me and new Chief Constable Will Kerr, that there is much work still to be done, particularly in relation to the worrying rise in violent crime. We must continue our efforts to prevent violence and continue our work on focusing on young people to build this out of our community for the longer term.

“A more connected and accessible police force will ultimately deliver safer communities for us all and that is what we are focused on delivering. We have reopened six police stations to the public this financial year and plans for 2023-24 will see six more police station front desks reopened across Devon and Cornwall.

“Combine this community presence with our many hundreds of new police recruits and we are presented with a once in a generation opportunity to prevent crime at a neighbourhood level and create a policing model that will be the envy of the country.