The first coronavirus lockdown contributed to a 14 per cent reduction in recorded crime in North Devon and Torridge in the last year.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics revealed a total of 7,557 recorded crimes in the North Devon Community Safety Partnership area between July 2019 and June 2020 – 1,192 fewer than the previous year.

With a portion of the reporting period coming during the Government’s coronavirus lockdown, it is not unexpected that reported crime fell across a number of areas.

Theft offences fell by 28 per cent, from 2,500 in 2018/19 to 1,800 in 2019/20, with shoplifting (449) falling by more than 40 per cent.

There were also big reductions in sexual offences (18 per cent) and criminal damage (17 per cent).

North and West Devon LPA Commander, Superintendent Toby Davies, said the area remains one of the safest places to live.

He said: “Clearly the first lockdown has had an impact on crime numbers and making comparisons with previous years will be difficult, but it is good to see that crime reductions in our area are still far greater than the decreases seen nationally over that same time period.

“We also have one of the highest positive outcome rates for crime in the region. Put simply our teams are catching more offenders for those crimes, and this reflects the hard work of police officers and staff, alongside our partner agencies and the excellent support we receive from our communities.

“This area remains one of the safest places to live in the country with far lower levels of crime than elsewhere in the country and we are all very proud to live here.”

Superintendent Toby Davies. Picture: Tony GussinSuperintendent Toby Davies. Picture: Tony Gussin

Supt Davies said crimes such as domestic abuse and hate crime were being ‘closely monitored’, as well as other areas associated with higher levels of harm and risk.

“Domestic abuse and hate crimes have not seen those same reductions and clearly have a significant impact on victims, alongside being areas at risk of under reporting,” he said.

“As such increased reporting in these areas is a good thing and enables us to provide support to victims. We can only work on what we know.

“As such I urge victims of these appalling crimes to continue to have the confidence to report matters to us and be reassured that our officers will treat such reports very seriously.”

Supt Davies added: “It is worth noting that much of what we do is not crime related; road safety, safeguarding and anti-social behaviour to name but a few.

“Equally, activity around Covid compliance is not recorded within these figures, which understandably is taking up much of our time.”