VIDEO: Horsham ranked 14th most peaceful place to live

The district commander of Horsham police has welcomed news that this area has ranked 14 the in a list of the most peaceful places to live in England and Wales.

Chief Inspector Howard Hodges praised the findings of a recent survey conducted by the Institute for Economics and Peace.

CI Hodges

CI Hodges

It follows a crime reduction of more than ten per cent in the Horsham district from April 2012 to April 2013.

This is a drop of around 500 incidents compared with the previous year, and includes a decrease of 25 per cent in criminal damage.

But as a new police year begins, the chief inspector is setting out plans to tackle a host of challenges which lay ahead.

One top priority is investigating a rise in burglaries at homes in the district.

Mr Hodges said a mix of locals and criminals swooping in from outside the county are responsible.

The increase of people owning smaller electronic goods like iPhones - which are easier to steal and shift on the black market - may be a contributing factor.

Another important objective for Mr Hodges is to improve victim satisfaction.

He wants more residents than ever to report crime - which will inevitably have a negative impact on the district’s sparkling figures.

But Mr Hodges stressed that the force is ‘moving away from bean counting’ in a bid to create even more transparency. It forms part of the police and crime commissioner’s plan which was revealed earlier this month.

“People of Horsham are very very unlikely to be a victim of violent crime, and they are very very unlikely to be a victim of a serious sexual offence,” he explained.

A third of all violent crime reported in the Horsham district is domestic abuse.

Mr Hodges wants to encourage victims of anti-social behaviour, sexual offences, domestic abuse and hate crime to pick up the phone.

As the year moves forward officers will also be focusing on the new estates sprouting up around the district.

“People move in and a community is expected to happen overnight,” he explained.

“We want a process in place from day one, so they know who to contact, so they’ve got a neighbourhood watch set up.

“We’ll be looking at how you can take people across 1,000 homes to become a safe community which is hostile and resilient to crime from the outset.”

Over time Mr Hodges would like to see more volunteers give up their time to become special constables in Horsham. The position holds the same powers as a PC but is unpaid. Sussex Police are currently pushing a huge recruitment drive for specials.

Mr Hodges added: “Crime continues to fall. We know that Horsham is a safe place to live - it’s one of the safest places to live with the lowest crime rates in Sussex.

“It compares very favourably to similar areas elsewhere in the county and the recent police index report listed Horsham as the 14th most peaceful place to live in England and Wales.”