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Cracking Crime Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 22:35 GMT 23:35 UK
Street crime 'still a problem'
Tony Blair and a police officer
Blair said "real progress" had been made by police
The government has admitted street crime is not yet under control, despite an annual fall of 6% in 10 target areas.

Both Prime Minister Tony Blair and Home Secretary David Blunkett said there was still work to do, although progress was good and people should be feeling safer.

I'm not saying the job is done

Tony Blair
In April, the prime minister pledged to have the problem under control by the end of September in the country's 10 worst areas.

Figures for August showed a 14% drop in crime in those areas since that promise was made.

Mr Blair told BBC News there had been "really significant falls" in street crime in the two worst areas, the West Midlands and London.

He added: "I'm not saying the job is done but there's a difference between a 30% rise and 14% fall."

But a BBC survey suggests most people believe Labour has failed to keep its promises on cutting crime.

What is street crime?
Snatch theft
Possession of firearm
There is also evidence which suggests the focus on street crime may have caused other crimes to increase.

ICM spoke to a nationally representative sample of just over 1,000 people across the UK, ahead of BBC One's Cracking Crime day on Wednesday.

When asked if they thought the government had successfully been "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime," 74% disagreed.

Mr Blair responded by saying he accepted there was a lot more to do and he was "frustrated and impatient to make more progress".

But he said overall crime figures had fallen in the last five years and his policies were making a difference.

A week ago, the government revealed the August figures in 10 areas which account for 80% of the country's street crime.

There was a 14% drop in street crime since April and a 6% reduction in the last year.

Police officers outside Westminster
Three-quarters of people surveyed said Labour failed on crime

Mr Blunkett told the BBC that much had been achieved but there was still a lot of work to do.

He said: "People won't be convinced that we are doing what the statistics say unless they feel it in their own neighbourhood and their own community."

He added there was a record number of police officers at 130,000 and he would shortly be announcing investment for more police over the next three years.

But Shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin said too much emphasis was placed on getting quick results and not enough on long term objectives to cut crime.

Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said civilians could play a greater role in reducing the burden on police.

In South Yorkshire, a 25% drop in street crime since April was matched by a 26% increase in burglaries.

Police officers there say resources have been taken away from other vital areas in order to target street crime.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Chamberlain said: "It's had a beneficial short-term impact.

"The truth is we don't want to operate like that for years and years, so we have to be a lot smarter in how we look at this."

The prime minister conceded there had been some rises in car crime and burglary in some of the hotspots in the last 12 months.

He said: "We should not say it's a hopeless picture, it's not, but you can go to some parts of the country where there's been real significant progress in tackling crime."

Criminologist Marian Fitzgerald told the BBC street crime usually went up in September.

She said this may have been a factor in the government publishing its figures a month before the end of its target date.

BBC One's Cracking Crime day included a range of programmes being screened from 1900 BST on Wednesday 18 September.

Presenters Nick Ross, Fiona Bruce and Peter Snow analysed the poll findings, and what they mean to viewers.

The public also had the chance to put questions to key crime decision-makers, including Home Secretary David Blunkett, in a live discussion programme.

The BBC's Richard Bilton
"Senior officers say targeting just one area like street crime is a short-term policy"
The BBC's Peter Snow
"Eighteen hours into this day we'll have had nearly 29,000 crimes committed"
Prime Minister Tony Blair
"We can show we have made significant progress"


Background stories

Should juries know about past convictions?



5404 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

18 Sep 02 | Cracking Crime
Calls for jury law reforms
17 Sep 02 | UK News
Police red tape 'to be halved'
12 Sep 02 | Politics
Street crime pledge 'met'
24 Apr 02 | Politics
Blair sets street crime deadline
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