OXFORDSHIRE’S police are getting better at catching crooks and driving down crime.

However, despite an improvement on 2009, more than three-quarters of all crimes are still not being solved, new figures reveal.

And victims of crime fear cuts to the county’s police force may see a reverse in performance.

Between April 1 and December 31 last year there were 33,556 crimes recorded by police, of which 8,058 (24 per cent) were solved.

That is better than the same period in 2009, when 7,739 (21.8 per cent) of 35,461 crimes were solved. It is a dip, however, on the 2008 figures when 9,912 (26 per cent) of 38,108 crimes were solved.

Last night officers insisted they were solving the crimes most important to residents.

Acting Det Chief Insp Simon Morton said crime was at its lowest for 30 years, and the county’s detection rate was “on par or better” when compared to similar cities like York.

Mr Morton said officers were doing the “right thing” by solving serious crimes which worried the public, which he said were sex crimes, assaults and serious violence.

And he said Government cuts to the force’s budget of £52m over four years would not affect officers’ performance and ability to detect crime.

He said: “What we are doing is solving more of the crimes that are the most important to the public.

“The ‘all crime’ figure covers every single crime, from theft of a sweet or a tyre air valve cap, to murder and rape, so this can give a distorted impression.

“We have reduced crime to the lowest since the late 1970s, when we started recording all crime.

“The last five years have seen a continual reduction in crime, so much so that reduction this year was really challenging.

“As far as solving crime is concerned we have improved and are on a par or better than similar cities.

“That doesn’t mean there isn’t more work to do.”

Officers have hit all their detection targets, solving every murder and attempted murder in the eight-month period, as well as 55 per cent of all cases of grievous bodily harm.

Police class a crime as detected if there is a charge or caution, or if the Crown Prosecution Service decides not to proceed with the case.

They also solved 60 per cent of all serious violence and 31 per cent of serious sexual offences, ranging from an unwanted kiss to a rape.

Just 14 per cent of serious acquisitive crime was solved, which includes robbery, burglary and autocrime.

Mr Morton said four per cent of overall crime was dealt with by a Youth or Adult Restorative Disposal, where police believe it is in the best interest for the suspect to get a warning. These are not counted as detected.

He also said 39 per cent of hate crime and domestic abuse was detected in the period and 99.2 per cent of all domestic violence victims were risk-assessed in 48 hours and special measures put in place to protect them if necessary.

Mr Morton said it was important residents felt safe, and violent and dangerous criminals were caught quickly.

He said: “As for the overall crime detection rate, it could be better.

“We could divert resources to get more easy detections from minor crime so we can counter this sort of statement, but is that what you want from your local police?”

Martin Scarrott, 45, of North Way, Barton, had a charity collection tin stolen from outside his home about 10 days before Christmas and no arrests have been made.

He said: “We reported this crime and didn’t hear anything for two days. I think police would solve more crimes if they acted more quickly.”

Gordon Roper, chairman of Blackbird Leys Parish Council, said: “A quarter is better than nothing, but it’s not really good enough.

“People who commit low-level crime will think they can get away with it, and then they might move on to more serious crime. Crime needs to be nipped in the bud.”

Last July, yobs torched 90-year-old Wilfred Harvey’s mobility scooter outside his home in Barton Road. Nobody was ever caught.

Grandson Darren Harvey, 28, who lives with his grandfather, said: “With the cuts, there are not enough police officers on the streets now, but they should try to do a bit more because that is what we pay our taxes for.”

The Home Office’s national detection figures for 2009-10 ranked Thames Valley as the worst performer of England and Wales’s 43 police forces.

According to those figures, officers solved just 20 per cent of the 185,705 recorded crimes, compared to a 24 per cent detection rate by the Metropolitan Police, 27 per cent in Hampshire and 30 per cent in Wiltshire. The top performing police force, Dyfed-Powys, solved 48 per cent of crimes.