Glastonbury has seen a “huge drop in crime numbers” this year but the festival has historically been a “very safe place”, police have said.

As of Friday morning, Avon and Somerset Police had recorded approximately 85% less crime so far this year compared with the last festival in 2019.

Eleven offences had been recorded since the gates opened early on Wednesday morning, ending a three-year hiatus for the Somerset festival.

Superintendent Oliver Cosgrove, silver commander for Glastonbury, told the PA news agency: “The police operation here is to support Glastonbury Festival to provide a safe environment for people to come.

“It is a very safe festival generally and although we have seen a huge drop in crime numbers this year, that is not from a huge place previously.

“Generally, the festival is a very safe place to come and Glastonbury Festival has employed a lot of stewards and has got a really sound security plan with a lot of high visibility stewards – and we support that plan to try and reduce crime as much as we can.”

Superintendent Cosgrove suggested a fall in the number of attendees bringing cash to the festival had played a role in the drop in crime numbers.

He added: “Certainly at the festival a long time ago, people would store huge amounts of money in their tents because they didn’t want to carry it around with them for fear of losing it, so then thieves would find the opportunity while people were watching the big acts on the main stage to go around the tents and just cut them open and steal the money.

“These days it is a more cashless society a vast majority of venues here can take cards.

“It is not quite a cashless festival yet and I don’t think it will ever be, but certainly the drive is towards that.

“So people carry their phones with them, we hand out phone pouches to the public and they are very popular, which allows people to keep their phone in them and reduces the opportunity for those phones to be stolen.”

The 11 offences included four incidents of theft, four drug-related offences, one incident of common assault, one incident of criminal damage and one incident of public disorder.

One of the drug-related offences resulted in an arrest.

Billie Eilish will make history when she takes to the Pyramid Stage on Friday night as Glastonbury’s youngest ever solo headliner, while Sir Paul McCartney will headline Saturday night a week after his 80th birthday, becoming the festival’s oldest ever solo headliner.