Crime has been slashed across West Sussex after a crackdown on car theft and burglaries, police have claimed.

Some of the villages around Steyning are thought to have some of the lowest crime rates in Britain.

They include Ashurst, Bramber, Ashington, Pulborough, Henfield, Billingshurst and Storrington.

Inspector Martin Walker, who heads the Steyning sector of Sussex Police Forest Division, said criminal damage was down 15 per cent last month compared with April 2000.

He said there were only 45 incidents, which was a reduction of eight from the previous year.

Car theft went down by 67 per cent last month compared to the same month last year, with only two vehicles stolen across the sector, which covers 130 square miles.

Burglary also dropped by ten per cent last month with just nine offences recorded.

Mr Walker, who oversees a new priority team of police who are targeting car crime, burglary and criminal damage, said overall crime was down nine per cent in April.

But he said although crime was going down, there was a fear of crime among people in the area.

He said: "We do have an extremely low crime rate but also a disproportionate fear of crime, which is hard to tackle.

"We have set up a priority crime team to tackle the crimes local people tell us are important to them, including burglary, car crime and damage. Our aim in Steyning is to cut crime and catch criminals."