THAMES VALLEY POLICE recorded almost 12,000 more crimes this year compared to last year.

Nearly 150,000 offences were recorded by the force in 2017-2018, representing an increase of more than eight per cent – yet this was five per cent lower than the national average.

The annual figures were presented at a Wokingham Borough Council meeting last month and Thames Valley Police (TVP) Chief Constable Francis Habgood linked the rise in crime to falling police resources.

He told councillors that the budget of the force had decreased “in real terms” by £100m.

He added: “You can’t take £100m out and not say this has not had some effect.

“In terms of demand on services, the stretch is getting quite considerable.”

TVP lost more than 70 officers from their force, meaning their frontline is now understaffed by more than 100 policemen and women.

Other headline figures saw hate crime increase “across all strands”.

Racist incidents increased by 25 per cent whereas religious hate crime rose by 116 per cent.

Violent crimes saw a 12.5 per cent rise, sexual offences went up by just under 10 per cent and criminal damage and arson increased by more than 5 per cent.

These figures were all below national averages.

Despite this some crimes did exceed UK average scores, including burglary, vehicle crimes and drug offences rates.

There was a rise in knife crime as possession rates rose by almost 13 per cent.

Francis Habgood also noted an increase in the number of reported sexual offences, claiming that the reason for this rise was because more people had more confidence to come forward.

The Chief Constable spoke about the problem solving initiatives TVP had undertaken in the last year and mentioned efforts made to solve a bike theft problem near ASDA in Chalfont Way, Lower Earley.

Bicycles were repeatedly being stolen from a shelter near the supermarket and the police found that the culprits were getting the train to near the site before riding back home with the bikes.

TVP solved this issue by placing a ‘trap bike’ in the bike store and within 30 minutes of doing this, the bike, which was rigged up with trackers, had been stolen.

The police followed the bike to its new location and found other stolen cycles and drugs at the culprit’s house.

Mr Habgood revealed the force received more than 60,000 999 and 101 calls up to July 2018, but also showed that their had been a sharp increase in the time taken to answer these calls, rising up to 14 seconds at times.

TVP are fronting new campaigns to raise awareness and increase understanding of hate crime and domestic abuse over the next year.

A campaign to highlight that modern slavery is happening in Thames Valley reached more than 750,000 people online and many more through the 17,000 leaflets posted to residents.

This led to a staggering 80 per cent increase in modern slavery crimes being recorded in October and November 2017.

Councillors also heard about the impact the Royal Wedding had on Thames Valley Police, with Francis Habgood claiming the event led to one of the largest deployment of police officers in Thames Valley ever.