Devon and Cornwall have recorded the second lowest reported crime rate in England and Wales with only stalking and harassment and possession of a weapon showing a significant rise.

Figures released today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show total crime dropped by 8.7 per cent last year compared to a national average decrease of 6.6 per cent.

Victim-based crime also fell by 10.2 per cent over the same period, compared to a national average fall of 8.8 per cent – also the second lowest crime rate out of 42 forces.

The force saw double-digit decreases in most crime types across the whole of last year, according to the latest data. Only four crime types saw rises: Violence without Injury offences were up slightly (0.1%), Stalking and Harassment offences were up 6.1 per cent due to increased identification and recording of such offences.

Possession of weapons were up by 13.5 per cent, due to a recent change to the recording of offences of importing weapons.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer welcomed the news and pledged to keep working to reduce crime even further.

“To see Devon and Cornwall ranked the second safest place in the country is great news for our communities.

“It is also a testament to the hard work of all our officers, staff and volunteers in keeping our communities safe in this challenging year.

“While crime figures are only one area of performance we measure, my hope is our communities will feel reassured that we are working with them and partners to reduce crime and the fear of crime”.

“During the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic we saw a significant reduction in some crime areas due to the lockdown and less people being out in our communities as a result.

“In the summer some of these reductions returned to expected levels of recorded crime, but during the latter part of 2020, we again saw some crime types reduce in number when national restrictions around COVID-19 were brought in.

“It should be noted that demand, although at times showing a small reduction, has largely remained consistent throughout the year and at times risen sharply through the summer months.”

Devon & Cornwall Police recorded 9,099 fewer crimes for the year to September 2020 and the ratio of 53.7 crimes per 1,000 people was the second lowest in England and Wales.

Victim-based crime was also the second lowest in the country, with a fall from 89,541 to 80,369, resulting in 45.3 crimes per 1,000 people.

Of the 19 crime types included in the ONS tables, Devon & Cornwall recorded drops in 15.

Theft from a person (down 39 per cent), residential burglary (-19 per cent), shoplifting (-31 per cent) and robbery (-11 per cent) were among a raft of decreases during a year of lockdowns and restrictions.

Vehicle offences dropped 26 per cent and sexual offences fell by 6 per cent.

Since July 2020, Border Force seizures of intercepted packages destined for a Devon or Cornwall address have been recorded by the Force – 130 in last year compared to just eight in 2019.

Drug offences were up 14.4 per cent, following proactive policing, including around so-called county lines operations used by drug gangs.

Chief Constable Sawyer added: “Whenever crime has reduced we have taken the opportunity to be as proactive as possible in further reducing crime along with hidden harm and vulnerability, continuing our campaign of relentless disruption to the supply of illegal substances.”