10pc drop in crime but police warn on force cuts

Crime fell by 10 per cent in Yorkshire last year but police chiefs have admitted frontline officers will have to work even harder to overcome budget cuts and maintain their performance.

All four of the region's forces recorded a drop in overall offences between September 2009 and September 2010, compared with the previous 12 months.

Violent crime fell by 11 per cent, robberies were down eight per cent and burglaries declined by seven per cent, while reports of criminal damage dropped by a fifth.

But the number of sexual offences rose by seven per cent. Officers said this indicated that more victims were finding the confidence to report crimes to the police.

The Home Office published the figures alongside the results of the British Crime Survey, which the Association of Chief Police Officers claimed offered proof that "the risk of being a victim of crime remains at a 30-year low".

South Yorkshire Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes, whose force recorded a 12 per cent drop in offences, said: "While South Yorkshire officers and staff have yet again managed to achieve a considerable reduction in crime, these figures need to be understood within a challenging financial climate where job cuts will lead to a reduction in frontline effectiveness.

"That said, the reduced level of government funding announced late last year was expected and I'm confident that our service to the public won't necessarily decline over the next two years."

Mr Hughes said a recent survey by the force, Your Voice Counts, had found that residents were becoming less fearful of crime.

"Policing is changing both locally and nationally but we will continue to work hard to tackle the issues that matter to the public and to deliver the service they deserve," he added.

David Crompton, Deputy Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, where crime fell by eight per cent, said the force would remain focused on "the sharp end" during the budget cuts, ensuring officers "keep up the pressure on criminals".

Ann Liston, of West Yorkshire Police Authority, said: "With the scale of the cuts to be made – 40m in 2011-12 – we do not underestimate the challenge, and are inevitably asking those on the frontline to do more as support services reduce."

North Yorkshire Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell, whose force saw a 10 per cent drop in offences, praised local residents for their "outstanding" contribution to policing in neighbourhoods.

"The commitment to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour...will not be diminished as a result of these funding cuts," Mr Maxwell added. "I am overseeing a major restructure of the organisation which will both balance the budget and protect as far as we can what our communities tell us they want most of all, namely frontline, visible policing."

Humberside Police achieved the greatest crime reduction during the 12-month period, seeing a 13 per cent fall in offences.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Leaver said: "It is pleasing to see some good overall results for the Humberside area in spite of the difficult economic climate we are working in.

"This is indicative of the hard work and strong partnerships that exist between the police and all our partner agencies who work with us to tackle crime."

Home Secretary Theresa May said she would review the collection and publication of crime data to "improve public confidence".