POLICE in West Swindon have seen a dramatic fall in burglaries over the past year, despite resources being stretched.

Beat manager for West Swindon, PC Tom Turner, took up a new role with CID last month, and his replacement is now being lined up.

A recent recruitment drive for new PCSOs across the town will benefit the team, with two new recruits currently in training before hitting the streets.

Sgt Pete Foster said drug raids in collaboration with other policing teams have helped drive down opportunistic burglaries.

“We have had a good year in terms of the proactive side of the work,” he said.

“If we are making drugs harder to come by, we are driving crime away from the area.

“If we can make it more difficult to obtain drugs, there will be fewer thefts.

“Some of it can be from people leaving the area or going to prison.”

PC Stephen Yeates, beat manager for Toothill and Freshbrook, said although their numbers are currently at a low, major inroads have been made over the last year.

“It has been quite a hectic period for us,” he said. “We are not at full strength, and are currently in the process of recruiting.

“It is important to tackle the drugs problem, because addicts will often commit acquisitive crimes.

“Robberies are currently down by 25 per cent over last year, and overall crime is down by 12 per cent.

“Last year we had 3,703 reports of crimes compared with 3,462 this year, so progress is being made.

“The most substantial reductions in burglaries have been in non-dwelling properties, such as sheds and garages. That number has fallen by 37 per cent over the last year, from 354 to 236.

“We know that drugs and thefts go hand in hand, but we are always going to be two steps behind. We always rely on good information from the public.

“If we do not know about a crime we will not be there, and if we are not there they will always get away with it.”

The largest increase in crime across the sector was reported rapes, which rose a 25 per cent to 75 cases.

Sgt Foster said: “This is a national issue as a result of some of the high-profile cases. There seems to be a willingness to engage with police now.

“What we are concerned about is the public place attacks where we need to look at tackling the problem with more foot patrols in problem areas.”

PC Yeates said the statistics were often influenced by backdated cases.

“We have certainly not had 75 rapes in the sector over the past year,” he said. “What will often happen is someone will come forward after they have been the victim of a number of offences, and we will then be looking at cases which go back a few years.

“We do take every incident seriously and would encourage anyone who has been the victim of a sexual offence to come forward.”