OVERALL recorded crime dropped by 2.3 per cent in Dorset – although vehicle offences and violence against the person reports had both increased.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed Dorset Police had reversed a two per cent rise in just a six-month period.

The decrease in the 12 months to the end of March 2020, bucks the national trend of a 1.4 per cent increase, according to the data.

The statistics show that overall Dorset now has the eighth lowest crime rate in England and Wales, having been ranked ninth lowest in the previous figures.

Repeating the message from the force in recent years, Deputy Chief Constable David Lewis said Dorset continues to be one of the safest counties in the country to live and visit.

“This improvement reflects outstanding work done by of all our officers and staff to reduce crime and keep our communities safe,” said DCC Lewis.

“We have made good progress, but we know that every crime matters to our communities so we will continue to focus on driving down crime and providing an outstanding service to the people of Dorset, particularly the most vulnerable members of our communities.

“Crime figures are important of course, but they are only one area of performance we measure. I hope this will help to reassure communities that we are working with them and our local partners to reduce crime and help people to feel safe.”

The total number of crimes reduced from 55,265 to 54,016 over the 12-month period, a reduction of 1,249 (-2.3 per cent) or 1.6 crimes per 1,000 people.

Victim-based crime dropped from 49,213 to 48,272 or 62.6 per 1,000 people, a reduction of 941 (-1.9 per cent).

Burglary dropped 10.3 per cent overall with residential offences decreasing by 11.9 per cent.

Violence against the person rose 2.9 per cent, while violence with injury dropped 3.7 per cent.

Criminal damage and arson were up 5.3 per cent. Drug offences dropped 17 per cent.

Vehicle offences were up 10.7 per cent, a notable difference from a national decrease of 0.2 per cent, but theft offences dropped nine per cent .

Addressing the vehicle offences increase, DCC Lewis added: “This 10.7 per cent rise in vehicle offences equates to an increase of 433 theft from vehicle offences.

“We actively monitor crime data to identify any crimes series and local officers will continue to carry out regular proactive patrols at vehicle crime hotspots, including rural car parks and beauty spots.

“As has always been the case, a proportion of vehicles that were targeted by thieves were left insecure or had valuables on display.

“We would urge motorists to make sure they take a number of simple steps to help prevent themselves becoming a victim of vehicle crime. Please don’t make life easy for thieves.”

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “These figures represent an extraordinary turnaround for the Force and I want to praise every officer and member of staff who has worked so hard to make this incredible reduction happen.

“Dorset residents should be reassured that not only do they live in one of the safest parts of the country, but that their county also has a falling crime rate. I will be continuing to work closely with senior officers during my remaining time in office to make sure that wherever possible we can capitalise on this reduction and ensure the trend continues.”