A POLICE force claims it is winning the fight against crime with figures showing falls in most categories of offences.

New Cleveland Chief Constable Sean Price said a 12 per cent fall in recorded offences is down to the hard work of his officers.

"The results are very encouraging and officers and support staff throughout the force are to be congratulated for all their hard work. Extra officers on the streets, backed by our growing numbers of Police Community Support Officers are paying dividends and that means good news for the people of Teesside."

The news comes despite a change in the crime-counting rules which have shown a sharp rise in some categories of offending.

House burglaries are down by more than a third; break-ins to shops and outhouses, by 24 per cent; while robberies are down by 31 per cent.

Stealing cars and taking them without the owners' consent have fallen by almost 29 per cent while thefts from vehicles has fallen by 19 per cent. Cases of tampering with cars have been almost halved.

Mr Price said: "In common with every police force in the country new counting rules mean statistically more cases of violence, which includes minor assaults, and criminal damage have been recorded."

Quarterly figures show cases of violence have gone up by 94 per cent and indecency by 17 per cent. Drug offences were up 27 per cent, but the force says this is good news, reflecting the results of increased police raids.

Mr Price said: "People in Cleveland should be aware the figures show policing is effective."

Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon, a former head of Middlesbrough CID, said the fall in most crimes was excellent and reflected the council's own findings.

He said that in Middlesbrough the partnership between the police, community wardens and the public was working well in reducing crime and improving the quality of life for local residents.

Cleveland Police Authority chairman Councillor Ken Walker said: "The good news is that the statistics indicate that we are making progress across the districts, including Middlesbrough where we recognised there were particular problems and made available the resources to tackle them."