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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Muggings soar in London
Police patrol
More officers are being put on the beat
Street crime in London has soared in the past year, helping push up overall crime figures in the capital.

New figures released by Scotland Yard show that in the year ending in March, muggings went up by 38% compared with the previous year.

The Metropolitan Police says the need to respond to the possibility of terrorist attacks after 11 September took officers away from the fight against crime.

It forecasts a reduction in the street crime figures for April following its Safer Streets campaign.

Rising crime - a year in London
69,987 street robberies
190 murders
116,027 burglaries
9,994 sex offences

There were more than a million recorded crimes in London from March 2001 to March 2002.

Most major types of offence saw an increase.

Street robberies showed the biggest increase, running at 190 a day, but burglary and sex crimes also went up.

Only 14% of crimes were cleared up.

Safer streets

Scotland Yard says that 1,500 officers were redeployed to central London to boost security in the face of possible terrorist threat.

Police chiefs say that helped push up street crime figures in the following three months by 50%.

However, recent steps to reduce crime may be taking effect.

We've arrested and put through the criminal justice process 35% more street criminals, 5% more burglars and 19% more drug dealers

DAC Tim Godwin, Metropolitan Police

Operation Safer Streets has pulled 250 traffic officers off their usual beat and on to the streets in 15 of the worst boroughs.

It has been so successful that it is to be extended for at least 12 months.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) Tim Godwin told BBC News that police tactics were working.

"We've seen in March the lowest level of street crime in London since April last year so we are seeing it come down.

Extra officers

"We've arrested and put through the criminal justice process 35% more street criminals, 5% more burglars and 19% more drug dealers."

Scotland Yard has promised an extra 1,000 officers will be put on the beat from May to help tackle robberies and youth crime.

In February, London's police force was issued with a six-month ultimatum by the home secretary to sort out violent street crime.

David Blunkett threatened to use new powers to send in his own management if the force failed to deliver significant improvements within six months.

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See also:

14 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Blunkett issues Met crime warning
15 Jan 02 | Europe
'Huge rise' in violent crime
18 Dec 01 | UK Politics
UK police numbers leap
03 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Tories attack on police numbers
16 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Sharp rise in violent crime
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