REPORTED crime in the South Lakes has dropped nearly 15 per cent in a year, figures released today show.

Incidents reduced 14.9 per cent between April 2012 and March this year, South Lakeland Community Safety Partnership said.

Figures up to the end of the financial year from Cumbria Police showed there were 622 fewer victims of crime this year compared to last, with 3,540 reported crimes in 2012/13 within the South Lakeland District Council area.

There were 812 reported violent crimes during 2012/13, a reduction of 107, or 11.6 per cent, compared to the previous year.

Elsewhere, 86 fewer victims of assaults resulting in injury were reported with a total of 322 crimes reported in 2012/13 compared to 408 the year before - a 21.1 per cent fall

And harassment and public disorder reduced 28.8 per cent with 131 incidents.

The partnership said anti-social behaviour continued to be a 'top priority' in South Lakeland for communities, police and partner agencies.

Reported anti-social behaviour fell 10.8 per cent, from 3,825 incidents to 3,411.

Superintendent Mark Pannone, who is in charge of operational policing across South Cumbria, said: “These recent crime figures demonstrate exactly how safe South Lakeland is and why local residents should be proud of the area.

“A 15 per cent reduction in crime across the area is not an easy achievement and is testament to those who work to keep our communities safe.

“In South Lakeland, there were more than 600 fewer victims of crime last year, which should reassure everyone who lives, work and enjoys this part of the county.

“This success is down to the effective partnerships between communities, police and agencies like South Lakeland District Council.

“We form part of a local community safety partnership, which invests resources to ensure that crime and disorder does not increase.

“Together with partner agencies, police work to identify and tackle problems at an early stage to prevent crime before it happens.”

Hilary Stephenson, chairman of the South Lakeland Community Safety Partnership, said: “Over the last three years, it has been my pleasure to chair the South Lakeland Community Safety Partnership and it is remarkable statistics such as these that have made my job so rewarding.

“I do not underestimate the effort of all our partners who are involved in keeping South Lakeland communities safe and I am confident that this level commitment will continue.”

South Lakeland District Council chief executive Lawrence Conway said: “The excellent work that our police, communities and partners do is reflected in the significant downward trend shown in our latest crime statistics.

“South Lakeland District Council is proud to be involved. The safety of our whole community is paramount.

“These figures again demonstrate that South Lakeland continues to be the best place to live, work and explore.”

Overall in Cumbria during 2012/2013, crime within the county fell by 11 per cent, from 25,996 offences to 23,225.

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Richard Rhodes, said the figures were pleasing but that under-reported crime was still an issue.

“I would urge people, especially those experiencing domestic violence, hate crime and sexual assaults to come forward. 

“I am concerned that we do not have a sexual referral centre in Cumbria and will be supporting efforts to ensure that we have the right facilities in the county.

“Overall, these figures demonstrate the high-level of dedication and hard-work by the chief constable, all officers, PCSOs and police staff, together with partners and members of the public. 

“The police authority has also had a key role in providing scrutiny prior to my election in November.

“I have set the policing priorities for Cumbria Constabulary for the next 12 months in line with the Police and Crime Plan. 

“I will keep you updated on performance as we progress through the year.”

Cumbria Police temporary chief constable Bernard Lawson said: “I am pleased to see that overall crime in Cumbria remains low.

“Over the last year police officers, PCSOs and staff have been working hard to support our communities to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour and focus on the issues that matter most to local people.

“This commitment shines through in the latest figures released today showing that crime has fallen by 11 per cent.

“It is encouraging to see, from national statistics released last week, that 68 per cent of our community believe we are dealing with the local issues which matter most to them.

“Despite the general overall reduction in crime and anti social behaviour that these figures show, we will not become complacent.

“Our priority will always be to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour by  engaging with the people in our local communities so that we can focus our resources on the areas that they feel are important.

“We are in a difficult financial climate, however we will continue to fight crime through community policing so that Cumbria continues to be a safe place to live, work and visit.”