VIOLENT crime up by more than a quarter - the biggest increase in England and Wales.

Crime of all kinds up by two per cent - the only increase in Wales.

The crime figures for 2013 do not make great reading for Gwent Police.

They come at the end of a turbulent period for our local force. During 2013, Gwent lost its chief constable, and became embroiled in a national debate about the accuracy of crime figures.

Given that Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnston claimed repeatedly that crimes were deliberately being recorded incorrectly, and that new chief constable Jeff Farrar told MPs his officers had misrecorded some crimes, it was perhaps inevitable that the next set of crime figures would show increases after years of moving in the opposite direction.

Mr Johnston says the new figures are 'ethical and accurate' and reflect the 'actual' level of crime in the area.

He also says the force is moving away from numerical targets and focusing more on quality of service.

The understandable response of some of our readers will be: "Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?"

But it is clear there has been a significant change in the way the police are going about their business in Gwent.

If the new figures are accurate, then all well and good. But further increases will damage both Mr Johnston's reputation and risk him being seen as a lame duck PCC in the run-up to the next election.

There is some good news among the figures - not least significant falls in the number of dugs and burglary offences.

The challenge now for Gwent Police is to become what most people actually want - a police force they can trust to serve and protect them.