CRIME has fallen in North Yorkshire by five per cent in the last year, meaning the county remains among the safest in England.

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics showing the number of reported crimes in the 12 months to the end of September 2013, revealed North Yorkshire is still the safest county in the region.

There were 34,363 reported crimes in the county in the 12 months to the end of September 2013, including 6,045 acts of violence, 665 sex offences, and 18,193 thefts.

According to the ONS, there were also 1,808 drug offences, 161 offences involving possession of a weapon and 5,745 acts of criminal damage and arson, and 359 acts of fraud.

Chief Constable Dave Jones, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “The reduction in crime in North Yorkshire is testament to the dedicated work of the policing teams and the strong community partnerships right across the county.

“We are very proud to be recognised as the safest place in England and, together with the Police and Crime Commissioner, I am fully committed to maintaining the fight against crime and increasing the safety and quality of life for residents.”

Figures released directly from North Yorkshire Police said reports of sexual offences had increased by 20 per cent to 135 crimes, and said this was due to improved reporting facilities, such as the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), giving victims greater confidence.

A spokesman said shoplifting had also increased by three per cent, which was still under the national average of four per cent, but was a trend “generally seen to reflect the economic downturn”.

The figures showed that North Yorkshire has the lowest murder, violence and sex offence rates of any force in Yorkshire and the Humber, and overall crime had dropped since figures released last July, which showed 35,301 reported crimes in the 12 months to that date.

Nationally, crime has fallen by ten per cent in England and Wales in the same period, and is now at the lowest level since records began 32 years ago.

However, police-recorded crime figures were last week stripped of an official “gold standard” mark by the UK Statistics Authority – the statistics watchdog – after it raised that information on crimes recorded by police forces around the country “may not be reliable”.