Crime falls by 5% in Avon and Somerset Police force area
Police unions have clashed with the government over the reason for a drop in crime in Avon and Somerset.
There was a five per cent fall in police recorded offences, the Office for National Statistics said – despite a 12 per cent jump in sexual offences.
On Thursday, the Police Minister told the Post the government's controversial shake-up of the police would not jeopardise the trend.
Conservative Damian Green claimed that measures taken so far – which include funding cuts leading to the loss of hundreds of officers – explained the reduced figures.
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He said: "They are very, very significantly down. We are seeing crime falling in this country, becoming a safer place, which shows that police reform is working."
But Kevin Phillips, of Avon and Somerset Police Federation, said: "I don't think it's right for the government to claim the credit.
"I would put it down to the hard work that police officers are putting in on the ground while under extreme pressure and with smaller numbers to deal with things."
A total of 110,922 crimes were recorded in Avon and Somerset in the year up to June, including 31,439 theft offences.
Reductions were recorded in most categories, with sexual offences, up by 12 per cent to 1,723, and drug crime, which was up by 11 per cent to 7,044, the main exceptions.
Separate figures released by the Home Office in July showed that Avon and Somerset Police's detection rate was 30 per cent in 2011/12, unchanged from the previous year and among the highest in the country.
Meanwhile, nominations close today for next month's vote to choose the region's new police and crime commissioner.
Mr Green confirmed £3 million was being spent on adverts to raise the profile of the elections, which include CCTV footage of yobs smashing up a phonebox. It follows warnings that holding the poll in November, coupled with a lack of public interest, could lead to a record low turnout.
Future elections will take place to coincide with local elections in May, he said.
Asked if the elections would "rock the boat" while crime was falling, he said: "Absolutely not. Making each individual force more accountable to a local democratically elected figure will help raise their game. Crime falls for a number of reasons, one is clearly effective policing, that is what we are seeing in most of the country at the moment."
Mr Green admitted that a month ago, "relatively low numbers" of people were aware of the election – but insisted there had been "an explosion of interest" in recent days.
Violence against a person, 23,795 recorded incidents, down 6% from 2011
Sexual offences, 1,723, incidents up 12%
Robbery, 1,184, no change
Burglary, 12,842, down 11%
Vehicle crime, 9,964, down 11%
Other thefts, 31,439, down 3%
Fraud, 3,477, up 4%
Criminal damage, 18,094, down 9%
Drug offences, 7,044, up 11%
Other offences, 1,360 down 1%
Total crimes, 110,922, down 5%