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Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 16:58 GMT
A quarter 'are crime victims'
Smashed car window
England and Wales have high car crime rates
England and Wales have the second highest number of crime victims in the western world, according to a major international survey.

The 2000 International Crime Victims Survey, compiled by academics in the Netherlands, said 26% of people in England and Wales were victims of crime during 1999.

Only Australia had a higher figure at 30% while Scotland was far lower on 23% and Northern Ireland the lowest western nation surveyed on 15%.

The study confirms earlier evidence that levels of victimisation are higher here than in most comparable countries for most categories of crime

Jack Straw
Home Secretary Jack Straw said the results showed "no-one should be under any illusions about the challenges ahead".

The figures reflected evidence from last year's British Crime Survey that overall levels of crime had fallen in recent years, he added.

"Yet the study confirms earlier evidence that levels of victimisation are higher here than in most comparable countries for most categories of crime."

Downward trend

The survey interviewed 2,000 people by phone in 17 countries, asking everyone the same questions about their experiences of crime.

Interviews suggested crime levels fell in 1999, showing a downward trend from the previous two times the survey has been conducted in 1991 and 1995.

Jack Straw
Home secretary has spoken of challenges ahead
But researchers from the University of Leiden found people in England and Wales were most likely to have their car stolen, with 2.6% of owners suffering a theft, compared with 2.1% in Australia and 1.9% in France.

Figures for completed or attempted burglaries were second highest in England and Wales at 5%, behind Australia at 7%.

England and Wales also came high up in the tables for the number of victims in robberies and assaults.

Overall, Northern Ireland had the lowest number of victims of all the countries surveyed, which included most European countries, the US, Canada, Australia and Japan.

'Record investment'

Mr Straw said: "Crime may be falling but it is still too high and we have a great deal more to do to make Britain a safer place.

"Record investment is now going into the criminal justice system and further reforms are to be announced soon to ensure it is better able to catch, prosecute and punish offenders."

This year's results mirrored those of the previous ICVS in 1995.

Property crime was generally declining due to better crime prevention and improved home security, the researchers concluded.

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