ROBBERIES in the county are up by more than a quarter compared to last year, the latest figures have shown.

Crime numbers from the Office for National Statistics report a 28 per cent increase in robberies in Wiltshire in 2017, the crime with the steepest recorded rise.

Vehicle offences also increased by 24 per cent, with sexual offences rising by 19 per cent.

Overall, Wiltshire Police recorded 44,034 crime in 2017, an increase of eight per cent.

But this rise was just over half the national average (15 per cent) and lower than the regional average of 11 per cent.

In a statement, the force did not mention the increase in robberies, but said the rise in thefts from vehicles (2,064 in 2016 compared to 2,564 in 2017) came from a majority of vehicles left insecure, or with valuables on display inside.

And it said the increase in sexual crimes, which included a 37 per cent rise in the recorded number of rapes, "reflects that victims are feeling confident to come forward and report a sexual assault" after high-profile awareness campaigns, including #MeToo.

Detective Superintendent Jeremy Carter said the force has recently appointed a specialist sexual offences lawyer to give staff additional training to conduct thorough investigations and maximise prosecution opportunities.

Meanwhile, drug offences in the county dropped by 15 per cent, with 187 fewer offences.

Wiltshire Police has also improved how it records crimes with a 95 per cent crime recording compliance rate.

Assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden said: “Our crime increase is lower than the national and regional figures and compared to similar sized forces we are well below the average crime figures; however we are not complacent and remain focused when it comes to tackling all crime and criminals.

“Our crime recording is consistently high and stable as reflected by our [crime recording compliance] grading.

"The figures we are seeing are now an accurate picture of crimes in our county and the work we are doing to combat criminal behaviour is reflected in this too."