BURGLARIES on homes in the Marlow area have almost halved over the last three years, with police and community activists praising each other’s work in tackling criminals.

New figures obtained by the BFP show the number of burglaries on homes in the Marlow police ‘Beat Code’, which includes Bourne End and Wooburn Green, is down by 49 per cent since 2011.

From April 1 2013 to March 6 this year, there were 70 ‘dwelling’ burglaries reported compared to 137 in 2011/12.

Inspector Scott Messenger, who heads up the team at Marlow Police Station, puts the dramatic fall down largely to better use of police resources and stronger links with the community.

He said: "Home burglaries are the lowest they’ve been in years. The fact that known local offenders are managed extremely closely helps hugely.

"It’s a combination of individuals being put away and getting a lot smarter in terms of analysis and indentifying hotspots as well as individuals.

"We’ve been making it very difficult for those criminals to operate and we’ve got much better networks now with volunteers in the community like neighbourhood watch and others.

"Crime prevention is almost impossible to quantify. Can you say thieves will avoid this area because of neighbourhood watch signs? It’s hard to say but my gut feeling is they do because of how vigilant people are and because of the focus we’ve put on it. Thieves always look for easy targets."

‘Non-dwelling’ burglaries are also in decline, with a 13 per cent drop in raids on businesses over three years. However, with a spike last year of 244 crimes, this year’s figure of 169 represents a fall of 31 per cent in the last 12 months.

Geoff Pegg, chairman of the Neighbourhood Watch network which covers Marlow as well as Bourne End, Hazlemere and Wycombe, said better communication is having a positive effect.

He said: "The results are staggering, and I am delighted to hear Inspector Messenger say that about Neighbourhood Watch.

"In the last year or two we have been doing more to give advice on how people can protect themselves against common crimes. Messages go out from Neighbourhood Watch alert system and the advice can now reach much greater audiences than before.

"The police are very supportive from the chief constable all the way down through the ranks, they all like to do whatever they can to support us. We reciprocate and we also talk to PCSOs and share our knowledge of Neighbourhood watch with them, telling them what it is all about and how it fits in with their role.

"Some years ago I got a lot of complaints about the police not doing enough but that is just not the case now. They are much more visible now and far better at visiting the victims of crime."

The Wycombe district Community Safety Partnership identified property crime, including burglary, as one of its main priorities over the 2013/14 financial year.

As well as policing, the multi-agency partnership has input from the probation service, drug and alcohol services, councils, the NHS and more, with teams working together to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

Inspector Messenger also paid tribute to former Wycombe area commander Gilbert Houalla, saying the superintendent played a key role in stepping up the fight against burglary in the area.

He said increased police patrols and more PCSOs on the streets have led to a much more visual police presence in Marlow to deter would-be thieves.

And with new police computer systems set to be installed, Inspector Messenger claims even more time will be spent on front line policing in the future.

He said: "One of the legacies Gilbert Houalla left in his time here was to oversee the cuts that came locally and nationally, and in that time we’ve actually increased front line officers in the Wycombe LPA, rather than a decrease.

"As managers we have to think a lot smarter about how we can utilise our people.

"We’ve got new IT systems coming in which will make us more streamlined and free us up which means we’re free to go out to do what officers are paid to do and what they enjoy doing most."

The Wycombe District Neighbourhood Watch Association holds its AGM on April 29 at St Andrews Church, Hatters Lane in High Wycombe with chief inspector Colin Seaton, Wycombe’s deputy area commander, due to speak at the meeting.