POLICE have promised West Oxfordshire residents that their priorities will not change, despite a change of commander.

Helen Roberts has replaced Colin Paine as the district’s top officer, after he was promoted from Chief Inpector to Superintendent and put in charge of policing in North Oxfordshire.

Ms Roberts, 47, who now has the rank of Acting Chief Inspector, will hold the post until at least April.

She said: “It’s a new challenge for me but we will be focusing on continuing on the same lines.

“We have the same priorities – burglaries at dwellings are highest on the list, as are auto crimes and metal thefts.

“There are a lot of thefts from vehicles, with particularly the theft of catalytic converters on the increase.

“And assaults remain a priority. The centre of Witney can be very busy on Saturday nights. We want not just to detect assaults but reduce the number of assaults.

“It’s not just about reducing crime, it’s about reducing the fear of crime. That also means issues like antisocial behaviour.”

She has worked in West Oxfordshire for two-and-a-half years, serving as the deputy commander for a year-and-a-half. Prior to that she was the detective inspector for a year.

She added: “I will go on until a decision is made as to who will take over the role permanently.

“I enjoy the job, because of the diversity the area has. I have worked here on and off over the years, as a sergeant, and I lived here when I was a PC. It’s an area I know well.

“I wish Colin the best in his new role. His promotion sends a positive message about how this local police area is being run.”

Supt Paine, 35, said: “I really miss working in West Oxfordshire.

“I have never met or worked with a group of police officers who knew the community so well.

“Helen Roberts is terrifically capable and I know she’ll do a fantastic job as my successor.”

Witney’s Detective Inspector Rob France has also been promoted, to Chief Inspector, and will now become the police commander in Wokingham.