The Police Federation has warned against an â€œover-relianceâ€ on the latest stats showing crime is down after a government minister used them as proof that police numbers could be cut without compromising safety.
Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker told the BBC that the apparent fall in crime â€œhas an impact on the number of police officers you need on the street.â€
In an official statement from the Home Office, he added: â€œPolice reform is working and crime is down by more than 10 per cent under the Coalition Government.â€
However, Police Federation representative Paul Ford said there were â€œwell documented issues of confidenceâ€ in crime statistics, adding that they may not â€œmatch reality.â€
Mr Ford said he wanted to see â€œa move away from the current over-reliance on crime stats as the main gauge of policing effectiveness.â€
The Crime Survey for England and Wales figures showed sexual offences recorded by the police rose by 20 per cent in the year to March.
The Office for National Statics (ONS) said the rise was attributable to the Jimmy Savile inquiry and Operation Yewtree, adding that more victims were coming forward.
Improved compliance with the recording standards for sexual offences in some forces may also be a factor.
Earlier this year senior officers and crown prosecutors committed to successfully progressing more rape cases through the courts.
Some forces had faced criticism that they were not taking allegations seriously enough.
The focus on sexual offences is happening at the same time as a crackdown on child sexual abuse, as demonstrated the National Crime Agencyâ€™s announcement this week that more than 650 suspected paedophiles had been arrested as part of an operation targeting alleged online offenders.
Survey results also showed fraud offences rose significantly in the year to March â€“ a rise possibly attributable to more accurate recording.
Crime levels overall dropped by 14 per cent â€“ reaching their lowest level since 1982.
The decline fits with a pattern of falling crime across many western nations â€“ a phenomenon that has baffled experts who have cited factors ranging from the rise of smartphones to reductions in the use of lead in petrol as possible explanations for it.
Figures from a separate ONS publication show police officer numbers are down for the fifth consecutive year.
From Police Oracle