CRIME is down 18 per cent overall in Gwent, according to the latest Home Office figures, the biggest reduction in England and Wales.

During the 12 months to June, 36,499 crimes were committed in the Gwent Police force area, almost 8,000 less than during the previous year.

There were 1,448 fewer burglaries (down 22 per cent), 60 fewer victims of robbery (down 31 per cent), 1,860 fewer vehicle crimes (down 31 per cent), 1,816 less instances of criminal damage (down 21 per cent), and 1,361 fewer incidents of violence (down 17 per cent).

The only crime rise was in the area of drugs offences, up by 19 per cent.

The 18 per cent reduction is the biggest of England and Wales' 43 police forces, with Thames Valley's 14 per cent reduction the second biggest.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Prince praised officers and the public, the latter for taking crime prevention advice seriously and being prepared to provide information about those carrying out crimes.

He said information from the public is helping police operations on drug crime, which is a factor in the rise in recorded drug crime, the second highest in England and Wales.