THE 'inordinate' amount of time spent investigating 'non-crimes' is taking police away from tackling a rising wave of violence, sexual assaults and robberies across the Thames Valley.

Robberies have risen by more than a third in Oxford alone, and there has been total of 38,634 violent crimes recorded across the Thames Valley, up nearly a quarter.

Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said the force is being dragged away from 'real crime', as statistics released by the Home Office for the year up to June 2018 reveal an overall rise of eight per cent in the Thames Valley.

It comes as hate crimes motivated by disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity - which have been criticised for taking up police time - have also risen by 35 per cent.

And over the last decade, front line police numbers have plummeted, stretching the force even further.

Mr Stansfeld said the pressure on budgets meant police should focus limited resources on 'real crime' rather than reports of misogyny and other incidents currently not classed as criminal offences.

Speaking on BBC's Today programme, he added: "We're spending a huge amount of time in the police force, and we've had a great deal of money taken out, chasing around on what are basically other people reporting incidents which are simply not crimes."

He was echoing comments made by former Thames Valley chief constable Sara Thornton, who when she addressed the National Police Chiefs' Council at its annual conference said forces were too stretched to take on all 'desirable and deserving' issues and called for a 'refocus on core policing'.

But Oxford city councillor Tom Hayes, who serves on the TVP crime panel, argued that hate crimes also need to be dealt with.

He said: "We know hate crime is on the rise in the Thames Valley and in Oxford, with a spike following the Brexit vote. It causes emotional harm and is something people want investigated."

Mr Hayes also said Mr Stansfeld betrayed a 'fundamental misunderstanding' of what the former TVP chief constable was saying.

He said: "He implies she is saying investigating hate crimes is almost a waste of her time.

"Actually she is saying with the current resources police are having to prioritise and reduce the scope of their mission.".

Between April 2017 and March 2018 there were 2,396 hate crimes reported in the Thames Valley, up from 1,775 the previous year.

There are also now more than 1,000 fewer Thames Valley Police officers in front line roles than three years ago.

And the Home Office is currently considering broadening the definition of hate crime to include misogyny and age-related incidents.

Speaking on BBC's Today programme, Mr Stansfeld said it took an 'inordinate' amount of time to investigate such incidents and therefore was time police were not pursuing violence, burglary and fraud cases.

Mr Hayes, who is also the board member for 'a safer environment' at Oxford City Council, said it was not up to the PCC to 'decide what constituted a crime' and the issue of whether to broaden the definition of hate crime to include mysogny and age-based incidents was a matter for the Government and MPs after consultation with experts.

He added:"The commissioner either genuinely believes these crimes are wishy-washy, and I think that completely misunderstands what people care about, or he is diminishing them to justify his inability to prevent cuts.

"It begs the question, what next? What Sara (Thornton) is saying is if the Government and MPs decide they need additions to the legal framework then police won't be able to cope with that.

"That could include something like drugs, where we have seen a rise in things like county lines (organised drug dealing)."

Statistics from the Home Office show that 1,013 officers, in roles categorised as ‘visible operational front line’, have been lost from the force between March 2015 and this year – a drop of 41 per cent.

Over the same period, the number of violent crimes recorded in the Thames Valley increased by 59 per cent.

The number of hate crimes nationally have sky-rocketed since 2011 – more than doubling to almost 100,000 nationally in 2017/18.

But of the 185,715 crimes Thames Valley Police dealt with this year up to March, only 1.29% were hate crime related.