BURGLARIES and other crimes across Winchester and Hampshire have hit a 30-year low, according to the latest crime figures.

But police this week called for more support from the courts in tackling crime in the region.

The statistics reveal officers detected more crimes than ever before, and arrested more people in the year ending March 31 than in any other.

But the county's police chief, Chief Constable Paul Kernaghan, said the judiciary was too lenient on offenders.

Announcing the lowest crime figures for 30 years, Mr Kernaghan urged the courts to back the police more vigorously.

"Good policing will not, by itself, produce the safe communities we all desire," he said.

"I suggest that society needs to openly decide if it is prepared to accept continued offending by known criminals, or should such behaviour lead to progressively tougher and longer sentences of imprisonment?"

Hampshire's figures show house burglaries were 22.8 per cent down for 2004/05 -- at 5,415 -- the lowest for 31 years.

Other successes were:

Vehicle crime down 19.5 per cent, the lowest since 1981.

Total number of offences: 3.1 per cent down at 173,072

The figures put Hampshire at the top of its group of seven similar-sized police forces across the country, despite having a lower number of police officers per thousand of population.

But it was not all good news, with sexual offences and violent crime rising by just over nine per cent.