Crime in Wiltshire has fallen by 4.7 per cent, which means 1,600 fewer victims of crime, according to latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In England's 38 forces as a whole there is a 3.4 per cent reduction in overall crime, meaning Wiltshire is ahead of the national picture.

The statistics cover the period January 2013 to December 2013 in comparison to the same period the year before.

The Wiltshire force has maintained its position as the sixth lowest nationally for overall crime and fourth lowest for dwelling burglary rates and has improved from sixth to fifth lowest for robbery crimes.

There has been a small decrease in non-dwelling burglaries resulting in an improvement from 30th position to 26th nationally.

However more such crimes are reported to Wiltshire Police than the national average so this remains an area of focus.

There has been a small increase of 2.3 per cent of violence against the person compared with a 1.1 per cent increase nationally.

This is due to an increase in the number of victims reporting first time offences. Wiltshire Police encourage victims of domestic violence to come forward to enable the police to continue to understand and reduce violence within the county.

Sexual offences have increased by 30.7 per cent which is due to changes in recording practices and also attributed to high profile cases with multiple victims during the reporting period.

Nationally, there has been a 16.6 per cent increase in reported sexual offences which may reflect that more victims are willing to come forward and report crime.

Chief Constable Pat Geenty said: “I am really encouraged by Wiltshire Police maintaining its sixth position nationally with the lowest overall crime figures.

"We have however got some areas to work on such as non-dwelling burglaries. I am pleased that the changes we have made to the way record crimes are resulting in more accurate crime figures. This has meant an increase in some areas but in the long run will show a more accurate picture.

"We continue to work with the Police and Crime Commissioner to keep crime down in the county.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson, said: “It is good to note that the overall number of victims of crime has fallen. Reducing crime and anti-social behaviour is one of my main priorities.

“I am pleased that the constabulary is taking steps to stop offences happening in the first place with proactive intelligence-led activities such as Operation Harness. Crime prevention is very much on my agenda and that of the Chief Constable.

“At first glance the figures on sexual offences are a cause for concern. But I am aware that a crime validation team has been working hard since the middle of 2013 to ensure that crimes are accurately recorded and categorised.

"This welcome development, alongside the work that has been done to encourage victims of domestic abuse to have the courage to report offences to the constabulary, has led to the sharp upturn.”