"DORSET is going to be the safest county in the UK."

That is the message from the new Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset David Sidwick, who was elected last week.

In an interview with the Echo, Mr Sidwick emphasised his plan to reduce crime across the county in a bid to to win Dorset the title of 'safest county in the UK' - a goal which he believes is achievable.

He said: "I would love for Dorset to be the safest county in the UK and that is what we are going to drive for. We are going to cut crime and anti-social behaviour by putting more visible policing on the streets and I want the police not just to be seen more in the community but to be more connected with the communities that they serve.

"We are going to connect the visible policing to the people to address the needs of the people, and that is how we are going to get Dorset to be the safest county in the UK.

"As part of that, we need to have more police officers on the front line and I intend for us to have more."

Prior to the police and crime commission election, Dorset Police was already scheduled to take on 52 new officers by the end of the financial year. That number is expected to increase to 135 officers by the end of the next three years, subject to government allocations for 2022/23.

As well as promoting visible policing, Mr Sidwick, from Bournemouth, is keen to fight rural crime in west and north Dorset.

He said: "When I was campaigning, rural crime was one of my top priorities as I fear that people in the rural parts of the county feel like they aren't as well valued compared to the big towns in east Dorset, like Poole and Bournemouth.

"Rural crime is tough to police because it is often more hidden than other crimes, such as domestic violence. We have also seen a huge increase in farm theft in the county - it is up 28.7 per cent from last year - so we need to look at ways to improve it.

"Half the county live in rural areas and they deserve to have their issues dealt with as well."