NEW police commissioner Anthony Stansfeld has said he cannot guarantee crime will not rise under his regime.
The Conservative said there were too many factors outside Thames Valley Police’s control, but promised he would do all he could to help the force prevent and solve more crime.
The 66-year-old was elected the force’s first police and crime commissioner (PCC) earlier this month. He will be paid an £85,000 salary to oversee the force’s budget and priorities.
PCCs were elected across the country in a Government bid to make the police more accountable.
Mr Stansfeld told the Oxford Mail that after his first year in office, he hoped people would feel safer and more criminals would be prosecuted.
But he warned that crime rates would depend not only on police performance, but on such factors as the growing population, licensing laws, and which criminals were in or out of prison at the time.
He said: “A lot of it is not directly in the control of police. You can never promise anything in the future that you don’t have complete control over yourself.”
But he added: “I know from the police’s point of view we will be doing our best to reduce crime.”
“I hope burglaries continue to go down; I hope metal theft and rural crime goes down; and I hope people are confident that vulnerable people are being looked after better.
“But one thing people have to realise is the police are only one part of reducing crime.”
Mr Stansfeld’s targets – set by the police authority he sat on and replaced – are to cut violence and household burglaries by five per cent, to increase detection rates of domestic burglary from 15.2 per cent to 17 per cent and serious sexual crimes from 29.6 per cent to 30 per cent.
He said: “It’s a very well run force financially. The necessary cuts have been made and performance has increased.”
But he said detection rates – the proportion of crimes that see a charge or conviction – needed to increase.
He added: “They were hugely improved last year and one of my key aims is to ensure improvement continues.”
The former Army man said his top crime fighting priorities for Oxfordshire were household burglaries, the exploitation of vulnerable people highlighted by Operation Bullfinch earlier this year, antisocial behaviour, metal theft and rural crime.
He also said he wanted to visit every council and police area in the Thames Valley Police region within the first four months.
He said: “I would like to know every unit within the police force well, I would like to be confident that everything that can be done realistically to reduce crime is being done.”
He added: “I cannot tell the police how to do their jobs but what I can do is make sure they are aware of the priorities. I will do my best to make sure they have the resources to tackle them but I am not here to tell them how to catch burglars.”
And he said the PCC system was better than the former police authority which was made up of 19 members.
He said: “It gives much more leverage on those parts of the criminal justice system the police didn’t have control of, or a real say in, before.
“We are far more powerful politically to tell the Government to sort things out.”