POLICE in the region have defended the accuracy of their crime date as the latest figures reveal a further fall in offences.

According to an annual report by the Office for National Statistics, total recorded crime dropped by two per cent in the North-East in the year to September.

Durham saw a six per cent fall, while crime in Cleveland dropped by two per cent and remained static in the Northumbria Police area. 

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There were reductions in most types of crimes across the region, except sexual offences which increased by 41 per cent in Durham and four per cent in Cleveland.

In North Yorkshire, crime fell by six per cent, although the force also saw a rise in sexual offences by 20 per cent – an increase the force regarded as “good indication” that victims had growing confidence to come forward.

The crime figures were the first released since the statistics watchdog removed its official gold standard mark amid mounting concern they were being recorded inaccurately by police.

However, Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Constable Iain Spittal said he had confidence in the date captured and reported by the force.

“Figures are released to the Home Office in the full knowledge that they will be available publicly and will be subject to scrutiny and the force stands by these figures.

“There is absolutely no benefit in us under reporting crime statistics or inaccurately reporting them."

North Yorkshire Chief Constable Dave Jones also stood by the crime figure data.

He said: “North Yorkshire Police operates a robust and ethical system of crime recording which is subject to a high level of scrutiny to ensure it meets the standards set out by the Home Office.”

Durham Constabulary Deputy Chief Constable Michael Banks welcomed the reduction in offences in his force area, although admitted there had been a rise in some crimes more recently.

He said the increase in sexual offences was mainly due to three significant historical cases, adding: "County Durham and Darlington remain two of the safest places to live, work and visit in the country."