According to the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) crime figures released on Thursday, (July 20), Devon and Cornwall remain one of the safest places to live in the UK.

Some types of crime, like shoplifting and bicycle theft, have shown significant increases, This is from a low base and the rates in Devon and Cornwall remain the second lowest in the country.

Devon and Cornwall have consistently been in the top three in recent years and the latest figures put Devon and Cornwall in first place, ahead of North Yorkshire and Wiltshire. Crime in Devon and Cornwall rose by 3.6 per cent, below the national average of 4.5 per cent.

Deputy Chief Constable Jim Colwell said: “We’re obviously proud to see confirmation that the counties we serve are the safest in England and Wales, but we have to take it with a degree of humility. As people will probably be aware, the Force has been working hard to meet the standards set by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) after being placed under their Engage process back in October last year.

“Since the inspection we have made a number of improvements, including boosting resources, reviewing policies and procedures and working with other forces to identify best practice in the areas identified by HMICFRS.

“A new governance structure is in place to scrutinise our compliance with national standards for crime recording and we have invested in resources for our auditing capability. We also introduced a new system to improve our crime data integrity.

“A triage system has been introduced for telephone calls, which means a call-handler identifies what assistance the caller requires. Working with the Police and Crime Commissioner we have also re-opened seven Police Enquiry Offices to improve public access. We know how important this service is to the public and are committed to doing better.

“The other area identified by the Inspectorate was the management of sexual or violent offenders. We have already increased the number of officers in the unit to ensure workloads are managed in line with national guidance and our neighbourhood policing teams are also now supporting by attending joint visits.

“I’m extremely proud of our officers and staff, but we can’t be complacent. There is still a lot to be done to meet the standards that the public rightly expect and that we expect of ourselves.”

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “My aim has always been to maintain our force area as having a low recorded crime rate by working with partners and communities across the force, connecting the public with policing through initiatives such as those that have increased officer numbers to record strength and reopened police station front desks.

“While I am delighted that there is less recorded crime here than in any other force in England and Wales there is still much to be done to bear down on the Police and Crime Plan priorities of tackling antisocial behaviour, violent crime, drugs, and improving road safety. We also need the public to be by our side so is vital we secure their trust and confidence by making it easier to contact police and engage with them. I intend to reopen six more police enquiry offices this financial year and am working with our Chief Constable to improve police visibility in all our communities.”