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The BBC's Jane Peel
"Today's crime figures will probably be the last before an election"
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UK Home Secretary, Jack Straw
"Things are turning around"
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Anne Widdecombe, Shadow Home Secretary
"[Labour] have not got their priorities right"
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The BBC's Clare English
Clare English speaks to Police Federation representative Jane Berry
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Tuesday, 16 January, 2001, 15:04 GMT
Sharp rise in violent crime

The figures relate to crimes reported to police
Official figures have revealed a sharp jump in violent crime, overshadowing the government's bid to emphasise its tough approach to law and order.

Home Office figures released on Tuesday showed that incidents of violent crime rose by 8% and robbery by 21% between October 1999 and September 2000.

Crime hotspots
West Midlands Police: Highest robbery rate outside London with 4.1 offences per 1,000 people.
London: Robbery rate 5.6 offences per 1,000 people.
Central Newcastle: Highest number of violent attacks - ranging from common assault to murder - with 236.5 per 1,000 residents.
As the statistics - which show a 0.2% drop in overall crime - were published, it was also announced that the number of people joining the police force had risen significantly.

But the rise in violent offences reported to the police forms an embarrassing backdrop for Labour in the run-up to an expected spring election.

Inner-city areas remained the worst for violence, robbery and burglary, according to the new statistics.

But burglary rates actually fell by 8% - the seventh consecutive drop - while thefts of vehicles fell 7% and thefts from vehicles fell 6%.

'Figures encouraging'

Home Secretary Jack Straw insisted the figures were encouraging and showed "the continuing success of effective action against crime".

"As a result of excellent work by the police, local councils, community groups and others, recorded crime fell over the 12-month period.

Home Secretary Jack Straw
Jack Straw has pledged to boost police numbers
"Many of those lessons learnt targeting burglary and car crime were used to good effect on violent crime too."

The figures come just a week after Mr Straw unveiled an "action plan" to cut violent crime and pledged to boost police numbers to record levels within four years.

That aim was backed up with the announcement that police numbers, falling since 1993, increased by 444 from March to September last year.

A total of 5,200 recruits joined in 2000 compared to 3,000 the year before.

It also emerged the government will soon be announcing moves to make it more attractive for experienced officers to carry on working after 30 years of service.

We are being invited to rejoice that the overall fall in crime is 0.2%

Ann Widdecombe
Home Office Minister Mike O'Brien told the BBC: "Overall the message is a good one - crime down, police numbers going back up."

Police colleges were "bulging" and they were looking at a "number" of other initiatives to increase police numbers, he went on.

Nonetheless they were "seriously concerned" about the violent crime figures.

The task now was to keep up the pressure on areas such as vehicle crime and burglary while delivering the same successes against muggings and alcohol-fuelled street crime, Mr O'Brien added.

On Friday the government's Police and Criminal Justice Bill will be published, including measures for fixed penalty notices to be issued to drunken yobs.

The Conservatives used the crime figures to renew previous attacks over the long term fall in police numbers.

William Hague and Ann Widdecombe are expected to launch an assault on Labour's record
Shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe told the BBC: "The truth of the matter is that we left behind a fall in crime of 16%.

"We are being invited to rejoice that the overall fall in crime, according to the latest year, is 0.2%.

"That is actually flatlining at its most optimistic interpretation."

She said the "huge fall" in police numbers was mainly to blame, alongside courts having inadequate powers to deal with young offenders.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes said: "I think the worrying thing, in a pattern which may otherwise not be so worrying, is the violent crime increase in the streets."

He backed the idea of asking experienced police officers to stay on and called for more sport and "constructive activity" for youngsters.

Recorded crime figures by offence
Offence group 12 months to Sept 1999 12 months to Sept 2000 % change
Violence against the person 551,157 588,846 +6.8
Sexual offences 37,400 37,263 -0.4
Robbery 74,835 90,410 +20.8
Total violent crime 663,392 716,519 +8.0
Burglary 935,343 862,671 -7.8
Total theft & handling stolen goods 2,218,829 2,179,674 -1.8
Theft of and from vehicles 1,071,788 1,000,317 -6.7
Fraud & forgery 313,833 328,306 +4.6
Criminal damage 908,651 953,979 +5.0
Total property crime 4,376,656 4,324,630 -1.2
Drug offences 129,670 115,492 -10.9
Other notifiable offences 64,708 64,775 +0.1
Total all offences 5,234,426 5,221,416 -0.2
Source: Home Office
Notifiable offences recorded by the police by offence
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See also:

16 Jan 01 | UK
The UK's crime hotspots
16 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Straw's uphill battle
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Tories launch crime broadside
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Public losing confidence in police
08 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Straw pledges record police numbers
05 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Labour 'failing' on anti-crime pledge
29 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Tories call for youth crime crackdown
01 Jun 00 | UK Politics
New laws target youth crime
16 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Police recruit numbers on the rise
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