ACCORDING to the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) crime figures released on Thursday, October 19, Devon and Cornwall are the safest places to live and visit in England and Wales.

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 Wiltshire and North Yorkshire.

Crime in Devon and Cornwall rose by 0.4 per cent, below the national average of 2.6 per cent.

Although theft offences have increased overall by nearly 16 per cent, this is from a low base and the Devon and Cornwall Police force area still has the lowest rate of theft in the country.

Forces across the country have seen similar rises, which seem to be driven by the cost of living crisis.

T/Deputy Chief Constable Dave Thorne said: “We’re very pleased to see these new figures.

“Our staff have 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.

“Our position as the safest police area in England and Wales proves that their efforts are paying off.

“We’re not complacent and the Force is undergoing some significant changes as we adapt our structures and working practices to become more efficient and effective.

“Easy access to the police isn’t reflected in the ONS crime data, but we know it matters to the public and we’re working hard to improve things.

“Working with the Police and Crime Commissioner we have re-opened seven Police Enquiry Offices to improve public access.

“We’re also working hard to improve our call response times. Our 999 service has improved significantly this year, with an average answer time of around seven seconds last month.

“Non-emergency call times have also improved and we’re trialling a new call-back service to help people.

“The vast majority of our officers and staff also live in Devon and Cornwall, and we take great pride in serving our communities to the very best of our ability.”

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “It’s fantastic news that once again our counties are the safest places to live in the country.

“However, this is no cause for complacency; there is still much to be done to achieve my Police and Crime Plan priorities of tackling violence, drug use, antisocial behaviour and road safety in our communities.

“It is vital that anyone experiencing crime has the confidence to report it to Devon and Cornwall Police, and I would like to remind the public that as well as contacting the force by phone or online via 999 or 101, they can visit their nearest police station to speak to a police enquiry officer in person.

“I last week opened a front desk in Devonport and will be reopening a further five this financial year and four more in 2024/25, bringing to the total open across Devon and Cornwall to 26.”