FEAR of crime across the Tyne Valley has increased in recent months following a long list of misdemeanours committed throughout the district.

A number of burglaries and robberies have been reported in Hexham within a short time frame, while reports of anti-social behaviour, drug abuse and arson have increased throughout the area too. Just last week, a local man was charged with robbery and possession of a bladed article following an incident at Haltwhistle Post Office.

Concerns about levels of crime are likely to rise even further following the publication of a damning report by the National Audit Office, the official watchdog for public spending, which was extremely critical of policing in England and Wales.

The report said that arrest rates and victim satisfaction levels were on the slide across the country as cash-strapped police forces struggled to deliver an efficient service.

The situation in Northumberland was worse than most, as it was revealed that Northumbria Police had faced more cuts than any other force. Since 2010, funding in the local police force area had been cut by 25 per cent.

The revelation prompted Dame Vera Baird, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, to publicly call for fairer spending across police forces.

She said: “The NAO report clearly shows that Government cuts are hitting Northumbria hardest, something I have said for many years, but the Government has refused to accept.

“The Home Secretary now needs to stop dithering on police funding and take decisive action to give Northumbria the fair funding formula it deserves.”

The news of the severe cuts to Northumbria did not surprise many people across Tynedale following the string of crimes reported recently.

But Sadat Yildiz, the owner of Turkish barber shop Yanzi, on Eastgate, Hexham, said that the force needed to do more to reassure local people that they were there to protect and to serve.

His shop has been burgled twice within the space of five months, and he fears he could become a victim of crime for a third time due to what he called a “lack of care” by local police.

He said: “They may have faced cuts, but they could operate better with the staff they have.

“When other businesses face job losses, everybody just helps out.

“I feel the police need to do more and work harder, because I am scared in case my business is targeted again.”

Despite the reduced staffing levels, local officers are doing a fantastic job with the resources they have, according to Northumberland county councillor for Haltwhistle, Ian Hutchinson. He was impressed that it took just an hour to make an arrest in the Haltwhistle Post Office robbery last week.

He said: “I must admit I have every faith in the police.

“I am naturally very disappointed that Northumbria is facing some of the biggest cuts, but it has to be said we live in one of the safest areas in the country.”

A police spokesman said: “Dealing with the recent spate of burglaries we have seen in the Hexham area has been a priority for us.

“We take reports of burglary very seriously and will always do our utmost to investigate where an offence has taken place.

“Positive action was taken at the time which resulted in a 25-year-old man being arrested and later charged in connection with three burglaries in the area.”