THE Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner has called on the deputy leader of the county council to stop “scaremongering” after he slammed policing in the Cotswolds as “woefully inadequate”.

PCC Martin Surl has said Cllr Ray Theodoulou’s remarks are “damaging public confidence in the police” and are “not backed up by the facts”.

Speaking at a full district council meeting last Thursday, Cllr Theodoulou, who represents Fairford and Lechlade, said: “A number of residents in my ward have raised serious concerns about the levels of crime and anti-social behaviour in our rural areas and market towns.

“At the same time, residents complain that there is scant police activity and presence, particularly at weekends which might deter criminality in these areas.”

However, taking into account crimes like burglary and robbery, compared to 15 other similar areas, 9.7 offences are committed per 1,000 population, according to figures released by the police.

This compares to 12.1 per 1,000 elsewhere, in theory making the Cotswolds the third safest place in the UK.

The trend is reflected locally too with crime in the Cotswolds down by 5.2 per cent compared to 12 per cent increase in other parts of the county.

Mr Surl said Cllr Theodoulou had not “bothered to contact either myself or the constabulary” before making such claims.

"Not only are his comments in danger of creating a climate of fear, they are damaging to the public's view of the police and the morale of officers trying their best in difficult times,” he said.

“I don't want our rural areas pitted against our urban ones. We are one county and the police are trying to do the best they can with the resources they have to police our county as one.”

He went on to say: "I think this attack is less about raising concerns around policing levels and more about attacking me.

“If Cllr Theodoulou wants to help, he might try lobbying his party's local MP or the Government for more resources – because quite simply visible policing presence has suffered due to cuts in officers numbers.

"Until then, I hope the county council will work with me to release the latent capacity available in our fire and rescue service as they can really help in terms of increasing community safety and support for our rural areas.”

Rural insurer NFU Mutual’s annual Rural Crime Report, published in August, revealed the cost of rural crime in the county had risen by 38 per cent.

£1.6million had been spent on insurance claims in relation to rural crimes in 2016 according to the report, the fourth highest in the UK.