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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 July, 2005, 05:00 GMT 06:00 UK
Rise in violent crime
Armed police officers
Criminologists say violent crime is rising across Europe
The latest crime figures have been published today, and they show a rise in violent crime.

For the first time ever, violence against the person, in England and Wales has passed the million mark.

The latest figures were gathered from 43 police forces by the Home Office.

But the statistics paint a mixed picture.

A different study, also out today, suggests the number of violent crimes has actually fallen. Both studies also suggest overall crime is down.

On Breakfast, we spoke to the Home Office Minister, Hazel Blears.

She said much of the violent crime figures related to drink-related incidents, and that half of so-called violent crime did not result in people being injured and was very low level.

There is more crime being recorded and more crime being reported to the police, and I think a lot of that is around the kind of thing that goes on on a Friday or Saturday night in our town centres, much of it linked to alcohol and the binge drinking that goes on.
Hazel Blears, Home Office Minister

Ms Blears also said that there was more low level crime being recorded.

And she defended plans for extended licensing laws, saying there would be a clampdown on "irresponsible" pubs and clubs and banning orders imposed on troublemakers.

Earlier on Breakfast, Bill spoke to criminologist, Professor Marian Fitzgerald

Professor Fitzgerald said that the discrepancy in violent crime between the two surveys could be explained by the way that the statistics are collected - the British Crime Survey, which reports that violent crime is decreasing relies on household surveys.

Professor Fitzgerald explained that the British Crime Survey can find it difficult to access people who are particularly affected by violent crime - young men in urban areas.

She feels that the underlying trend for violent crime is up and explained that this trend across Europe and North America too.

The reason for the increase in violent crime could be due to economic conditions: professor Fitzgerald said that as people become more affluent they tend to go out more, into city centres and drink more. That can create the conditions for more violent crime.

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Today's figures exclude sexual offences and robbery - the total for all crimes fell by 6% to 5.6 million incidents.

But gun crime rose by 6% to just under 11,000.

British Crime Survey

The Home Secretary Charles Clarke has also published results of the British Crime Survey, based on 45,000 interviews with crime victims and that showed an overall drop in crime by 7%.

The survey contradicts the police violent crime statistics saying the number of violent crimes has actually fallen.

Mr Clarke said he was, "extremely encouraged by the very positive statistics" adding that he recognises that violent crime "remains an issue of concern for many people".

Home Office Minister, Hazel Blears

BBC Breakfast



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