CRIME across the Cleveland force area has dropped substantially in the last 12 months, according to latest figures.

Reported crime fell by 9.4 per cent between January and December 2012, meaning that there were 3,718 fewer victims of crime.

While incidents of anti-social behaviour also decreased by 26.1 per cent meaning that there were 10,490 fewer victims during this period.

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At a local level there were reductions in each of the four policing Districts of Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar & Cleveland.

Major reductions were seen in almost all crime categories including sexual offences, 14.2 per cent; criminal damage & arson, 14.9 per cent; house burglary, 8.4 per cent; vehicle crime, 14.3 per cent; and overall violence, two per cent.

However, there was a slight increase of 151 offences in the violence without injury category which the force attributed to improved investigation of domestic abuse.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Adrian Roberts said: “We are not complacent and do not underestimate the challenge of continuing to reduce crime in this tough economic climate. Our focus for 2013 remains on protecting the public and serving the people of Cleveland to the best of our ability.

“My message to criminals is that there will be no let up in 2013: we will continue to take the fight to you and prevent, disrupt and detect criminal activity by bringing you to justice.”

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger added: “Everyone involved with keeping the public of Cleveland safe - officers and staff, our many partners and the public whose support and involvement is vital - can take pride in the fact that, despite the pressures faced on many fronts, crime and antisocial behaviour has been reduced over the past year.

“We will face many challenges in the year ahead, but these figures provide a firm foundation for us to move forward and deliver on the priorities I set out during the Police and Crime Commissioner election, including a continuing commitment to Neighbourhood Policing, ensuring a better deal for victims and witnesses and working with all partners to make the best use of resources.”