REPORTED crime rose slightly in Devon and Cornwall last year, but the region is still one of the safest counties in England and Wales.

Only Wiltshire has fewer crimes per 100,000 residents, making Devon and Cornwall joint second, along with North Yorkshire, which both reported 59 offences per 1,000 people last year.

Shoplifting has risen dramatically, both nationally, and in Devon and Cornwall.

The force hasn’t been able to provide figures for some types of crime because of a new IT system.

However, figures released by the Office of National Statistics for 2023 show a 37 per cent increase in shoplifting offences in the force area last year: 7,651 such offences compared to 5,583 in 2022.

Devon and Cornwall saw thefts rise 13 per cent with nearly 25,000 in 2023 compared to 22,000 the previous year, and a 52 per cent rise in ‘theft from person’.

Residential burglaries rose 25 per cent to 2,102 but non-residential burglaries dropped 28 per cent to 1,456.

Violence still remains the main crime across the two counties and last year saw around 500 more violent offences, up to nearly 47,000. Sexual offences rose slightly from 5,561 in 2022 to 5,785 last year.

Death or serious injury from unlawful driving increased by 66 per cent, from 39 to 65.

There were just over 12,000 ‘stalking with harassment’ offences, down slightly on the previous year, and a reduction in public order offences (7,384), drug offences (3,976) and criminal damage and arson (12,772).

Following the implementation of a new IT system in 2022, Devon and Cornwall Police haven’t been able to supply data on offences for use of knife or sharp instruments, firearms, domestic abuse-related incidents and those recorded by Action Fraud.

The force said it is dealing with the consequences of the ongoing cost of living crisis, reflected by a rise in theft and other acquisitive crime.

The Devon and Cornwall force is ranked in the top three best performing forces for seven crimes types – victim based crime, residential burglary, all burglary, public order offences, theft offences, shoplifting and bicycle theft and in the top five for vehicle offences.

Temporary deputy chief constable Dave Thorne said: ‘It’s always satisfying to see Devon and Cornwall near the top of the table, but we’re not complacent and we’re constantly striving to improve our service and improve public confidence.

‘Over the last year we’ve been using the Op Loki model to respond to issues identified by local people. The most recent phase was carried out in Barnstaple last month and focused on drugs, anti-social behaviour and keeping our roads safe.

‘We will continue working with our communities and partners to deliver a quality police service for our residents and visitors.’