OVERALL crime figures in South Wales have fallen by two per cent compared to last year, crime statistics have revealed.

Burglaries are down by 13.3 per cent and the force is top ranked in England and Wales for positive outcomes following a burglary with a 38.4 per cent success rate.

Vehicle offences were down by 10.2 per cent and the reporting of sexual offences, which has been subject to a high profile campaign by the force to encourage people to come forward, is up by 21.3 per cent.

Since the reported period, in April 2014, South Wales Police has simplified its systems by recording crimes as they are described by the member of public at the time they are reported.

This replaces a previous system where the recording of a crime waited until an officer had attended at the scene and investigated the circumstances.

The changes have not yet had an impact on crime statistics but when they do the emphasis on recording at the first point of contact is expected to lead to an increase in some of the categories of crime statistics.

Previously reported incidents were only recorded as a crime (or as a particular type of crime) once an officer had determined what, if any, crime had been committed.

Under the new approach to crime reporting the way the incident is described by a member of the public who reports it - as a burglary or a theft, for example - is how it will be recorded initially by South Wales Police.

It will only be taken out of the crime statistics if a police officer can establish additional information to prove that a crime definitely has not been committed.

This shift in how incidents are recorded and who the categories they are placed in are determined means the crime figures published every quarter will start to show a rise in the numbers of crimes being recorded.

Early indications suggest that for some types of crime the recorded crime figures are likely to show a year on year rise of 2 per cent by the next quarterly statistical release and progressively larger year on year rises over the next few quarters as the effects of the process change accumulate.

Police and Crime commissioner, Alun Michael, said the changes were predicted to have a noticeable impact on the reported crime figures, but that it must be right to “tell it as it is”.

“People in South Wales should not be worried by this change. While there will be a rise in the reported crime figures it won’t be a real increase – and in future the figures will be more accurate and dependable,” he said.

“The Chief Constable has taken this step because we want to focus on listening to the public and ensuring the service we provide is as responsive as possible to the issues they bring to us. I agree with this approach.

“We actively encourage people to report crime and listening to the victim is the starting point of the crime recording process. The changes should increase confidence that every report made is taken seriously.”

Deputy Chief Constable, Matt Jukes, added: "At least 75 per cent of the work the public ask us to do as a force relates to providing protection and reassurance, as well as dealing with anti-social behaviour. The remaining 25 per cent of calls concern reported crimes.

“There is an overlap between these categories, of course but spending time to work out how to record and assign crime reports can feel like a bureaucratic task to front line officers.

“We would rather take the report from the public direct and then see our officers supporting victims, gathering evidence and going after criminals.

“To do all of that, officers need the fullest, unfiltered picture of crime as the public experience it and these changes will ensure they get that".