Crime drops in Cadbury country: He resigned from the Tory party over law and order, but police figures prove he has got it wrong

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The Independent Online
THERE are red faces this morning in Upton Grey, Hampshire. Last week Peter Cadbury, heir to the Cadbury fortune, publisher and former head of Westward Television, announced he was leaving the Conservative Party in disgust at its failed law and order policies. A burglary at his home prompted the remark: 'Burglaries have doubled in this part of Hampshire in the last few months.' Yesterday it emerged that the opposite was true.

Picturesque Upton Grey is part of what is known to Hampshire Constabulary as Beat Five, together with the neighbouring villages of Preston Candover and Northington. Burglars added to the crime statistics there with a raid on Mr Cadbury's garden shed last Sunday. They made off with a chainsaw, two children's motor bikes and some garden tools.

Mr Cadbury, who moved to the village last year, fired off his resignation to the Conservative Association and followed that with a broadside against the Government in the Daily Mail: 'Since we came here, many householders have had their mowers stolen . . . The Conservatives promised us law and order. They have failed to deliver.'

But according to a police spokesman, by this time last year there had been 30 reported crimes in the district. So far this year there have been just 15. 'That is an exact 50 per cent reduction. We have thefts of a number of vehicles, gates and garden furniture. The biggest burglary this year has been to the value of pounds 3,500.'

Reported crimes for the Basingstoke district, which includes Upton Grey, were down by 15 per cent this year, he added. 'For the whole Hampshire force, which includes Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, the figures are down 6.25 per cent.' He didn't know how the quarter of a per cent was worked out.

The police force is reported to be annoyed about Mr Cadbury's outburst although yesterday its spokesman was being diplomatic: 'As with anybody who suffers a crime, Mr Cadbury has felt it very personally.'

Mr Cadbury, 76, a former test pilot, was unrepentant yesterday. 'I've had 150 letters from people around the country, some of them pathetic, things that have happened to them. They all support what I've said and they all think something has got to be done about it. I had the police superintendent up here last Thursday. He gave me those (reported crime) figures. I've got no reason to doubt them and I've got no reason to believe them quite honestly. A lot of break-ins are never reported. Maybe it is better than last year. The point is, whether it has been reduced or not, it is still prevalent and there is not enough money for the police.'

Peter Cadbury is no stranger to controversy. He once threatened to take legal action against Rear Admiral Sir Morgan Morgan-Giles for using automatic guns to scare pigeons off his farmland. He stood as a Liberal Party candidate for Stroud in 1945.

Sarah Faulkner, 51, chairperson of the local parish council who has lived in Upton Grey for the last 19 years, was somewhat baffled by Mr Cadbury's comments yesterday. 'I can't think that there's been a great sure of burglaries. I'm not frightened to go out and I don't think crime has escalated in this area.' She refused to be drawn on how she and fellow villagers felt about Mr Cadbury's outburst, saying diplomatically: 'It's difficult to say. Mr Cadbury hasn't been living here all that long anyway.'