DEPUTY Leader of the district council Paul Hiett says the authority will continue to work with residents across the Forest to help reduce crime.

The council has reinforced its commitment to working with partner agencies to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour through the Forest of Dean Community Safety Partnership (CSP).

The partnership, which involves a range of organisations including the council, Gloucestershire Police and the fire service, aims to “improve the quality of life” for communities by discussing issues and ensuring problems are dealt with.

The agreement is reviewed annually to establish local priorities and develop action plans to deal with them.

The latest review follows the release of official figures which show a 41 per cent increase in recorded offences in the Forest in the last year.

The CSP’s current priorities include drug and alcohol awareness, domestic abuse and sexual violence and road safety.

Of the crimes recorded locally in the last 12 months, 185 were sexual offences – an increase of 31 per cent from the year before.

As a statutory member of the CSP, the Forest Council produces action plans to deal with the partnership’s priorities and coordinates the local response to issues.

Cllr Hiett, Chair of the CSP and council cabinet member for communities, said: “It’s extremely important to all of us here at the Council that residents feel safe within their communities.

“We want to continue our work with partner organisations and members of the local community to help ensure the Forest of Dean is a welcoming place for all.

“The Community Safety Partnership annually reviews local priorities and will continue to work with residents from across the Forest of Dean to help reduce crime in the district.

“This scheme could not work without the commitment of its partners and I would like to thank everyone involved in this partnership and look forward to working with residents across the Forest to help make our District the best it can be.”

The data from the Office for National Statistics shows a yearly increase in the total number of offences recorded by police in the Forest to 4,717 - up from 3,353 the previous year.

This, however, at 54.2 crimes per 1,000 people, was far lower than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 91.3.

Community Safety Lead at Forest of Dean District Council, Damion Collins said: “The Community Safety Partnership helps people across the district to feel safe and welcome in their community. We work with residents and partners to discuss issues with residents and to ensure that those problems are dealt with.

“I would encourage any residents who are experiencing problems in their area to follow the advice provided by the Community Safety Partnership to help us eradicate those issues.”