REPORTED crime in Merseyside has risen for the first time in eight years, according to Home Office figures out this week.

Data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales revealed Merseyside was one of only six forces to see an increase in reported crimes in 2013.

The overall rise in crime was statistically small at just 1.2%, but the county's police commissioner Jane Kennedy has questioned whether the increase could be caused by cuts in Government funding.

The review showed significant rises in violence against the person was up 13.5%; theft from the person, up 16%; and shoplifting up 16%.

However there were reductions in burglary, theft, drug crime and public order offences.

Merseyside Assistant Chief Constable Ian Pilling said: "Despite a variety of ongoing challenges, we have only seen a slight increase in overall crime in the last 12 months.

"This is the only time in the last eight years that we have seen any increase at all in overall recorded crime.

"We will continue to target our proactive resources in tackling the issues that matter to local communities, while delivering an excellent policing service to the people of Merseyside.

"We continue to listen to the concerns of our communities, and are advancing our fight against serious and organised crime with the creation of the new Matrix Serious and Organised Crime team.

"We have always stood firm in our promise to tackle these issues and this will continue.

"Police and crime commissioner Jane Kennedy said: "While this small increase in crime is disappointing, it should be taken in the context of the sustained reduction in crimes of all types over many years of investment in crime prevention and the success of the police working hard in partnership with local authorities to keep our communities safe.

"What we may be beginning to see, however, is the slow impact of Government cuts to crime prevention projects, such as those sponsored by the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service to reduce the setting of fires and other crimes by young people, or the inability of local councils to fund extra numbers of community support officers in our town centres.

"However, I remain resolutely committed to a policing plan that aims to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and I am pleased to see Merseyside Police are equally determined to continue to prevent crime, but also to detect and prosecute when it occurs."