Norfolk is the safest place in England

A drive to put more police officers on to the streets of Norfolk was last night hailed a success after the county was officially named the safest in England following an analysis of Home Office figures.

A drive to put more police officers on to the streets of Norfolk was last night hailed a success after the county was officially named the safest in England following an analysis of Home Office figures.

The news was welcomed by business leaders who said it would provide a boost for the county's economy and help attract families to the region. Estate agents said it was likely to have a positive effect on house prices and would promote Norfolk as a desirable place to live and work.

Norfolk took the top spot in the iQuanta rankings, a system used by police forces nationwide to analyse government statistics, from previous leader Surrey after it was revealed the number of crimes per 1,000 residents fell from 65 to 58 last year.

The county has been among the safest for many years but this is the first time in recent history that it has been ranked highest. Despite a number of high profile crimes in particular hot-spots - for example recent killings on Norwich's notorious Prince of Wales Road - crime has fallen in the county for the sixth consecutive year.

Chief constable Ian McPherson said: 'People living in Norfolk should be proud to live in a county with the lowest crime rate in England. As part of our commitment to the public through the Norfolk Policing Pledge we will continue to reduce crime, anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime.

'Norfolk Constabulary is just two months into the new Norfolk policing model, the modernisation programme, which has put over 100 additional officers on the beat.

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'I am determined that once we have successfully bedded in the new policing model, we will further transform policing services through following a process of continuous improvement. The goal is the full confidence of the people of Norfolk.

'Fewer crimes are being committed and our detection rates are rising and as a result of our force modernisation programme earlier this year more officers are now on the streets.'

Norfolk is the only East Anglian county to feature in the top five safest counties. Surrey is in second place with 59 crimes per 1,000 people, followed by Devon and Cornwall, Cumbria and North Yorkshire.

Chris Starkie, chief executive of economic development partnership Shaping Norfolk's Future, said the report could only bolster the county's reputation.

He added: 'Businesses often have to work hard to persuade people to relocate to Norfolk, principally because it's often a long way from where they currently based.

'But when companies get their staff here the find they don't want to leave because, as we all know, Norfolk has a fantastic quality of life and these new figures provide an extra incentive.

'We have known for some time that Norfolk is a safe place, but to be named safest in the country sounds far more attractive than being second safest.'

Louis de Soissons, head of residential and director of Savills estate agent in Norwich, said: 'We have a stable and safe environment here in Norfolk and that is an important factor when people are looking to move from outside the county.

'People want an unspoilt county with real market towns where they can bring up a family. Being in the top spot reaffirms what we all know and could certainly be a boost when it comes to house sales.'

Last year saw an 11pc reduction in crime compared to the previous year. Public satisfaction rates have also improved with 68pc of people surveyed saying they think the police in their area are doing a good job compared to 55pc the previous year.

Mr McPherson paid tribute to the officers on the street and said that satisfaction rates were expected to improve further as the force's Safer Neighbourhood Teams become increasingly involved in the community.

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