Crime levels in North Devon and Torridge have stayed the same as last year according to the latest Home Office figures.

The overall number of crimes committed in 2018 has risen only two percent from 2017, from 11,056 to 11,282.

But the three year trend from 2016 has shown an increase of almost 18 per cent, due partly to the increased number of violent crimes recorded, which now even include abusive social media messages.

Burglaries have dropped by almost 20 per cent from 2017 to 2018, falling from 472 crimes to 379.

But violence and sexual offences stand at 3,510 for 2018, an increase on the 3,052 for 2017.

Chief Inspector Sheon Sturland has been newly appointed to the North and West Devon LPA (Local Policing Authority).

He said: "Although there has been a small increase in recorded crime, this is mainly due to an increase in reported violent and sexual crimes.

"Devon and Cornwall Police believe that crimes relating to domestic abuse, sexual violence and hate crime are under-reported and we are working within our communities to increase their confidence in reporting these crimes to the police.

"If these crimes are not reported we cannot support victims and we cannot hold perpetrators to account."

He added: "Overall, the increases in North and West Devon are smaller than the increases seen in the rest of the country with significant reduction in anti-social behaviour and burglaries and so I am keen to point out that this area still remains one of the safest places to live in the country."

Chief Inspector Sturland said there had been a small increase in drugs offences, mainly because police continued to target drug traffickers using the 'County Lines' model.

County Lines involves drug suppliers from elsewhere in the country exploiting vulnerable adults and children to assist them in dealing drugs in North Devon.

He concluded: "Understandably, this is one of our high priority areas and we will continue to make this a really difficult area for these dangerous drug networks to operate.

"The police officers and staff of North and West Devon continue to work really hard to keep us safe and reduce levels of crime.

"Our stated mission of protecting the vulnerable and preventing harm remains at the heart of what we do and North and West Devon remains a really safe place to live, work and visit."