THE crime rate in Chepstow is higher than the national average, according to new Home Office figures.

The figures of recorded anti-social behaviour and violent crime, confined mainly to the town centre, is rated high on the official crime map which launched earlier this month and is among the top two per cent for highest crime rate in England and Wales Chepstow rates higher than other Monmouthshire towns such as Monmouth and Abergavenny. It is also higher than Manchester's notorious Moss Side district and Brixton in south London which both have average rates of crime. However the incidence of serious crime is much higher in these areas.

Figures released for December 2010 show that there were 107 incidents of crime in Chepstow with 52 instances of anti-social behaviour and 13 incidents of violent crime.

The majority of the crime centred on the St Mary's ward in the town centre with a crime rate of 32.63 per 1,000 people. In Abergavenny which also has a higher than average crime rate at 32.56 there were 156 incidents, mainly centreing on the Priory area of the town. Monmouth which has average figures compared to the rest of England and Wales had 85 incidents of crime centreing on the Drybridge area of town had a 'crime rate' of 12.81.

Cllr Jacqui Sullivan, who represents St. Mary's ward in Chepstow, said: "The town centre with its proliferation of licensed premises has become a hotspot over the last few years. Our night-time economy is larger than any other town in Monmouthshire and associated with it are many of the problems identified in the crime map for the ward.

"For Chepstow Police this is an uphill battle, yet at the same time it should be acknowledged that they have the highest detection rate in Monmouthshire. A difference has certainly been seen since the street pastors started patrolling Chepstow town centre just before Christmas; these fully trained volunteers are able to stay with people who have drunk too much or been in a fight and are waiting for an ambulance. This frees up the police to get back out on the streets to do their real job."

Cllr Sullivan urged residents to contact police every time they experience problems with anti-social behaviour.

"Chepstow Police are doing the best they can with limited resources. What we need to see is more investment into the service so that we can see more of them out on the beat!"

A spokesman for Gwent Police said: "To make sure we keep Chepstow safe, we regularly run proactive operations to target specific crimes including anti-social behaviour, public order offences and theft from vehicles.

"To reflect the current position comparing January 2011 to the same period last year, anti-social behaviour has decreased by four per cent, violent crime has decreased by 11 per cent and theft from vehicles have decreased by 83 per cent in Chepstow as a whole."

Figures for Caldicot show that the town had 32 incidents in December with a crime rate of 16.28 which is above average. There were 36 incidents in Magor giving an average rate of 10.8. There were eight incidents in Undy giving a below average figure of 2.46 per 1,000 people. Rogiet reported 50 incidents giving an average figure compared to the rest of England and Wales of 5.64.