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Monday, 8 May, 2000, 06:00 GMT 07:00 UK
US crime rate falls again
US arrest
Nearly all types of crime were down nearly everywhere
Serious crime rates in the United States have dropped for the eighth consecutive year according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The numbers of serious crimes reported to police fell in 1999 by 7% compared to the previous year.

Both Republicans and Democrats claimed the fall was a result of their policies on crime.

While welcoming the fall in the crime rate, US President Bill Clinton called for further gun control measures to bring the rate down even more.

Crime falls across the board

The FBI report showed that all seven major types of crime were down in all regions of the US. Crime was also down is types of areas - the suburbs, rural areas and in cities of all sizes.

The violent crimes of murder, rape, armed robbery and aggravated assault were down a combined 7%.

The property crimes of burglary, auto theft and larceny were also down a combined 7%, led by an 11% drop in burglaries.

US Attorney-General Janet Reno said this was not a time to get complacent.

"Let's try harder. We must redouble our efforts by providing alternatives to crime as well as tough enforcement," Ms Reno said.

Claiming the credit

Both Democrats and Republicans pointed to measures on crime that they had sponsored.

President Bill Clinton said: "The report confirms that our anti-crime strategy - more police officers on the beat, fewer illegal guns and violent criminals on the street - is having a powerful impact."

US crime facts
7% overall fall in crime rate
Clinton administration put extra 100,000 police on streets
Nearly 12 children killed daily by gunfire
Murder rate up in New York

Mr Clinton pushed through funding for 100,000 more local police officers and passed the Brady law, which requires background checks for gun purchasers.

But he added that gunfire continued to claim the lives of an average of slightly less than 12 children daily in the US.

The President called on Congress to "pass common sense gun-safety measures to keep guns out of the wrong hands."

The chairman of the House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee, Republican Senator Bill McCollum, highlighted a Republican-sponsored law which he said had induced 27 states to impose longer prison terms in exchange for federal money to build prisons.

Commentators have said the lower crime rates were helped by a booming economy.

There are also signs that the falling crime figures may be bottoming out. In New York, the number of murders actually rose from 633 to 671.

The FBI will compiled a more comprehensive and detailed survey of crime in the US in 1999 in October.

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19 Jan 00 | Americas
Clinton plans assault on guns
22 Mar 00 | Americas
Gunmakers reject US control pact
17 Mar 00 | Americas
Gun safety deal agreed
20 Apr 00 | Americas
One year after Columbine
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