AT FIRST the news does not look at all good. Crime is continuing to rise in York and North Yorkshire, despite new approaches by the police - and an increase in funding.

No one is going to find easy comfort in learning that violence, burglary and robbery have all risen over the past 12 months. There have been nearly 4,000 extra offences of all kinds - a rise of six per cent. Violent crime is up by 17 per cent, while burglary in the York and Selby area rose by 11 per cent.

If such gloomy statistics represent the bad news, where can we find the good news? The very same figures - which, the police say, suggest that matters could be turning round at long last.

North Yorkshire's Chief Constable Della Cannings and her officers are well aware of the problems they face and are engaged in a number of measures to improve performance.

Operation Delivery, the back-to-basics crime fighting initiative, has only been in place since last September. Ms Cannings suggests that the statistics reveal gains, while also pointing out areas that need improvement.

The chief constable adds that the greater focus on performance will "continue to have a positive impact on North Yorkshire Police and the communities it serves".

The police also say the increased crime figures have to be set against improved detection rates: they have, in short, got better at detecting crime, so the figures have gone up. There has also, according to the report, been a fall in vehicle crime of 13 per cent.

So there is good news in the bad, or so the police insist. Most people will be prepared to believe them, for now at least. But next year's figures will need to show a great improvement to justify the increased investment in the police.

Updated: 09:54 Monday, May 03, 2004