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Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Is crime out of control?
Robberies in England and Wales have risen by 28% over the last year, according to the Home Office.

The Government's annual crime statistics also show the number of crimes recorded by the police has increased by 7%.

However, the Home Office claims that better recording practices are partly responsible for the rise.

And the British Crime Survey suggests that overall crime has fallen.

The survey, which interviews people to find their experience of crime whether they reported it or not, reports that crime is down by 22% since 1997, and by 2% in the last year.

Do you feel less safe? Do you think there is more or less violent crime these days? Have you been a victim of crime recently?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

The reason being that the police show crime has increased is that they have preyed upon the motorist (an easy target) rather than real criminals that mug, rape and kill.
Jeff, UK

It is time to arm Britain

Jeff, USA
The answer is very simple. The more guns the honest citizens have, the less crime in a society. It is clear, when you grant the citizens that right to bear arms, criminals now fear stumbling upon an armed citizen. Some economist have estimated in America alone, two million people are protected annually from brandishing a gun, shooting it, or simply the criminal detecting a gun. It is time to arm Britain, because the police cannot be everywhere all the time.
Jeff, USA

Jeff from the USA: What are you talking about, the more guns the "honest citizens" have the easier it is for dishonest citizens to obtain them and use them. I discovered how arming citizens helps crime when I visited LA. In England you get pick-pocketed or your house gets burgled, In the U.S you have guns stuck in your face. Don't be absurd
Brian, UK

Jeff, the more guns the honest citizens have, the more their 5 year old children inadvertently blow their brains out while playing with their friends. How many of your kids are killed every year due to gun accidents in the home???
M Maguire, UK

I'm sick and tired of people moaning about crime and how the government and police are to blame. The route causes of crime lie in bad parenting, bad education and powerlessness. How many of the people posting here are members of their Neighbourhood Watch scheme or Community Council? How many people take the time out to really do anything about crime themselves? Actions speak louder than words.
Duncan, UK

A couple of people have mentioned we no longer get riots like the eighties. Did they not notice Oldham, Burnley and Bradford last year? I'm not sure if I feel safer or not, I don't worry myself too much, but complacency is foolish.
Dave, England

The whole system is a shambles that the criminals are now well versed in playing the game

Phillip Holley, UK
The whole system is a shambles that the criminals are now well versed in playing the game. The police, with costs bearing on them and seeing the courts returning felons to the streets, have turned into a processing centre for the insurance companies, you get a crime number and a dismal admission that no one will investigate your crime or administer justice. Meanwhile, those who appear in the courts know how to play the magistrates by citing drug or family problems and wander back to their old life on suspended sentences. Build some more prisons and make the courts stricter and all of the rest will follow.
Phillip Holley, UK

"There is no such thing as society" was the claim of the Thatcher government, well there isn't now. Ever since those days of profit before anything and the rampant discarding of worker rights and jobs all we have done is create an underclass. We are reaping the rewards of this unbridled greed. We are seeing the third generation of folk who have no hope, live outside of society and feel no obligation to lawful pursuit of employment. It was made obvious that greed is good and they couldn't find any way into this "club" other than through crime and fraud, it is now endemic in certain areas and until these people are brought back into the fold they will remain outsiders and continue to rob and steal their way through life.

With all this corporate robbery which goes unpunished, the fat cat payments to directors whose companies don't make any profits, and we sit there and lecture the poorest on morals? Those in glasshouses... Mark UK
Mark Dennis, UK

I am amused to see so many comments blaming the government. The government is not to blame; they are just a reflection of society. Government is weak because society is weak, lacking any moral code. The British people as a whole think they deserve something for nothing, that they should not have to answer to any institution or ethic, and that responsibility always lies with some party other than themselves. This state of affairs will continue as long as there is no external major or threat, be it of war, hunger or disease. Peace obviously brings destructive navel gazing.
Neil, UK

Really! I left the UK one year ago. Going by some of the comments here it seems that in the meantime the country has become a battle zone! Since the 1980s football hooliganism has reduced. The riots - Tottenham, Brixton, Trafalgar Square have not been replicated. There are no longer any "no-go" areas for police. This discussion only serves to show people's fear of crime rather than actual crime.

Here in New Zealand people talk the same way as people in this discussion; but in reality NZ has to be one of the safest countries in the world as Britain is. The talk of resorting to guns frightens me. We only have to look across to the United States which does indeed have a serious problem with crime to see what harm readily available firearms will do. Cheer up Britain! You've never had it so good!
Tim Saunders, New Zealand (ex UK)

We send mixed messages to people

Chris P, UK
A large proportion of crime is drugs related, either dealers fighting over territory or addicts stealing to feed the habit. The so called "war against drugs is a joke". We send mixed messages to people. On the one hand we say drugs are bad and the next minute we say it is ok to smoke pot on the streets. Why respect the law it is a joke. If we want to stop the drugs menace we have to make the penalties so harsh that the dealers will go elsewhere. If we brought in a mandatory death sentence for dealers, the levels would fall and the dealers would go elsewhere. We will not do this because we are soft and because of the EU Human Rights charter. So please not more moaning about crime, either elect someone who has the guts to deal with it or shut up.
Chris P, UK

I would feel a lot safer in Britain if I felt that I could do something to stop a crime should I see one in progress or be on the receiving end of it. I hear so many stories of people stopping crimes and being charged with assault. This is crazy and must stop. I do not believe in vigilantism but if people see a crime they have a right to act or to defend themselves.
N. Bradley, Leeds

Too many people get rich out of crime these days (lawyers, police, criminals, the press).As long as this is the case, crime will continue to grow. We live in a society which glorifies violence and which turns mass murderers into heroes - what kind of message does this send out to our youth?
Doug McCormack, Scotland

I cannot say that I am afraid to go out but there again, I live in a relatively safe area. I travelled to visit relatives in the inner city a few months ago and I was terrified to even go to the local shop for some cigarettes. Young people shout abuse at you for even looking at them and I am so glad that I am not a pensioner. For older people I feel such pity - they have worked so hard for the good of us and seem to get no justice when they are mugged, abused and victimised by these people as young as 10.
Lauren, United Kingdom

Current initiatives are less to do with crime than solving a police capacity problem

Bill, England
Yes, crime is out of control. The evidence is there for all to see. And what one sees with one's own eyes does not compute with the statements and statistics from government. There is more bullying, vandalism, harassment, -"in your face" approach to life which oversteps the mark, as one end of a spectrum of crime that reaches to the unreported crime at the other end of that spectrum. Our policy makers should react to the evidence they see rather than literal interpretations of law or statistics that only capture one dimension of crime. Current initiatives are less to do with crime than solving a police capacity problem due to poor recruitment success. Folks know that too. It's all too transparent. One can see straight through it.
Bill, England

The problem I believe to be in the UK, is children now growing up have no respect for anybody but themselves, especially towards the police etc. and find it a 'buzz' to commit crimes such as stealing cars and burglary! The under 16's especially think that if they commit crime, nothing will be done to them if they are caught. To a certain extent, they are correct! The Government needs to act against these people and act fast before we have a society of under educated people who have no respect for anything or anybody!
Phil, UK

Here in Bradford the police often refuse to take statements of assaults and even muggings, so the figures released will be even worse than this! It's about time we had a government that could keep crime under control.
Alistair, Bradford, England

'Chris, UK' has the right idea. If children can experience some discipline through varies groups, fire, ambulance, army then they can develop a sense of self worth due to mutual respect. When will local councils realise that young people need a place to go, especially the 12-16 age group. What my local area needs is a youth centre, a place young people could go, have fun and make friends. There could be a pool table, pinball machine, a small out-door basketball court and it could be open Monday to Saturday until 9-10pm. Instead there is 1 youth club which is open for 3 hours on a Wednesday night, Football posts that need repairing and a tatty basketball ring on a muddy field. All kids want is somewhere to go and something to do. Is it any surprise that property gets vandalised when our future generation are bored out of their young minds?
Simon, 19, Southampton, UK

Bring back some form of National service (be it the forces or police/fire/paramedics etc.) to install discipline into the youth of today. Maybe not to the same level as the previous "regime" however we should allow youngsters to have a chance at being someone within a system of authority where respect can be given as well as received. It may also solve some of our shortage problems we face within our services, we never know, some elements may thrive on being given a chance to prove their worth away from the environments they now live in. The do-gooders should also keep quiet and we MUST be allowed to install discipline from the outset within our homes!
Chris, UK

If there were more police on the beat, rather than "on call" in their cars, maybe we'd all feel a lot safer walking the streets. I know for a fact that the surveillance cameras make me feel more nervous than safe. I'd rather have a policeman/woman around to protect me from an assailant than a CCTV camera there to record it happening.
Roger, UK / USA

Special Constables - toy policeman etc. etc. do not work. the only way to tackle crime is more visible policing - police on the streets instead of cooped up in the office with mountains of paperwork. We need a proper police force not jumped up community wardens or whatever you want to call them!
Anon, UK

Given that the average jail term for a violent offence is around the six month mark, where's the surprise in these figures?
Anon, UK

The ever-louder calls for "law and order" (at the expense of laws and liberty) fill me with foreboding. A few more years of the present trend, and we shall not merely have less crime, but also less freedom - since Britain will have become a police state.
Nigel Baldwin, UK

The situation here in the UK is not as bad as some people are making out. As an American living in "dangerous" Liverpool, I can say that Liverpool is much safer than any major US city or, for that matter, many European cities. (Paris is more dangerous than Liverpool). The problem is the drug addicts and a very small number of completely savage young English yobs.
Michael, US/UK

There is still crime here but it's on a much lower level

John Pritt, Melbourne, Australia
Having recently moved to Australia I was amazed to find how nearly every school stresses the development of the whole person including caring for others and community responsibility. There is still crime here but it's on a much lower level. Perhaps the government should change education policy and stop treating children as a source of statistics on how many exams they can pass. The current policies are alienating a significant minority by labelling too many youngsters as failures when everyone can contribute to a better society.
John Pritt, Melbourne, Australia

I would just like to thank everyone who has taken the trouble to post comments on your board. It has made me realise that people out there still care, and have far more sense than the people that govern us.
Tony Davy, UK

The problem is that there is nothing of monetary value worth stealing

Ted, UK
My office premises have been burgled three times in the last nine months. The problem is that there is nothing of monetary value worth stealing but the damage caused to the fabric of the building has cost hundreds of pounds. The only advice from the police, who I accept are under funded and under-resourced, is for me to spend more and more money to prevent further break-ins or possibly I wonder make thieves believe that there really is something worth stealing.
Ted, UK

Certain areas of the UK inner cities are in the control of drug dealers. The 'reclassification" of cannabis sends out the wrong message. The government's policies are weak and have the look of the Old Labour fools. Get real and get tough!
J. Karran, UK

Ade thinks that Street crime is a rare occurrence and you have more chance of being knocked down by a car. All depends where you live, certainly not in south London. Maybe in Scotland or the Isle of Wight. Get real my friend!
Bill, England

If access to guns is the answer to crime, why does the US have one of the developed world's highest murder rates and why do they lock up more people than any other country in the world? Crime has been going down in Britain for years and street robbery apart, the picture is good. Street robbery is a rare occurrence - statistically we have more likelihood of being run over by a car.
Ade, UK

Crime is out of control in this country

Mick, UK
I don't care about how many statistics they throw at us, crime is out of control in this country. Violent assaults, rampaging junkies and youth crime are rampant, even in rural areas. The young today have no morals, no responsibilities, no role-models and no hope! The blame? The do-gooders, social workers, liberal law-makers and the so-called human rights activists have spoilt this country forever.
Mick, UK

My last few years living in London were a nightmare of burglary, theft from, and of, vehicles. The police (some of whom I know as friends ) are overwhelmed by bureaucracy of political correctness, and statistics, and are resigned to the fact that they do not investigate these sorts of crimes anymore. It is open house for thieves and muggers in London.
Captain Stephen Hill, USA

The Government should try talking to the police officers out on the streets and not some senior officer who last walked the beat some forty years ago.
Stephen G, Tyne and Wear, UK

It is up to the police to do their job

Simon, UK
There are more police now than ever before: detection rates continue to fall. What are they doing? The government have provided the police - it is up to the police to do their job. Most of this is fuelled by mobile phone theft - why are young people not ensuring their safety? It is too easy to abdicate responsibility and then blame the government.
Simon, UK

Irresponsible immigration policies, unemployment and cultural indifference to maintaining law and order have to be prioritised in the fight against crime. Otherwise, increased crime fighting efforts with more police and bigger jails will simply result in more clever or vicious criminals.
Simon, South Africa

Jacques LeFave, USA wishes to have a reasoned response. Ok try this. 73% of childhood homicides occur in the US. Firearm related death in children is 12 times greater in the US than in other countries. Any other ideas or is the murder of your own children not enough? Yes the UK has a dire crime problem right now, but don't introduce guns for any idiot to use in a temper.
Matt, Amsterdam, Netherlands (ex. UK)

In response to Jacques LeFave, USA. Coming from the most violent country in the world, you would think that you would want less access to guns. You are 6 times more likely to kill a family member than an intruder with a gun. The more guns people have the more they will be misused. One way of stopping gun crime is by stopping production of all weapons and ammunition from now on. Guns are only there now to make money for the manufacturers. How can anyone justify selling a killing machine.
Rahul, UK

I hate to be smug - scratch that - in this case I rather enjoy it. There is a direct statistical relation between restricting access to guns and the rise in robberies. Those who do not care about any laws can get guns on the black market. Those that do care about the law were never a threat with their guns except to the criminal who wanted to harm them. Does anyone have a coherent argument to the contrary? I would like to hear it.
Jacques LeFave, USA

I am amazed at the lack of bobbies on our streets. The UK was in the late 80s a fairly relaxed and safe place. I don't feel that anymore. Organised crime has always existed but now teenage gangs rule the streets. Teenagers have hijacked our country. They have too much money and too much attitude.
Mike, UK

The church should do more to address this

Paul Goodman, UK
Youths commit criminal damage out of boredom and frustration and not always because of a criminal intention. Moral education is also a major factor. The church should do more to address this along with school education. These are my brief comments.
Paul Goodman, UK

Paul Goodman, you're right, young people today are morally and ethically bereft. They've never suffered. And compassion, empathy and a moral code are formed through hardship and suffering. But if you think it's the job of the Church to do more along these lines you're dead wrong. The responsibility lies with parents first and foremost. Not the Church, which in todays society has no influence whatsoever, especially among the young, and receives nothing but contempt and ridicule anyway. No, it's up to YOU to teach your kids morals, ethics, manners, and respect for others!
M Maguire, UK

They should be talking about reducing crime by 80%. The British Crime Survey doesn't interview anyone below 16 and hence undercounts crime. But then, this government has a problem with telling the truth.
John Slater, UK

Don't blame the police. It's the legal system that is at fault with known criminals released for minor technicalities. Too many lawyers getting rich putting criminals on the street.
Robert Lloyd, England

These young criminals are bomb proof

David Wood, United Kingdom
This nation has totally lost its way. As a teacher I am faced with the most appalling behaviour by children as young as ten. I have been assaulted three times since last September, including suffering a broken finger. Students cannot be excluded, since the government's social inclusion policy makes it almost impossible. These young criminals are bomb proof and often brazenly boast to me that they can not be brought to account, resulting in them going onto further and nastier crimes.
David Wood, United Kingdom

I have been accosted or robbed seven times

Stephen Saul, London, UK
Having moved to London four years ago, with no previous experience of personal attacks or theft, I have been accosted or robbed seven times. Once you're on the receiving end it puts things into perspective. The police are very little help and show little concern for petty crime. My parents once came to visit me in Highgate and their car got stolen. It's getting worse, and it is simply not tolerable. Arrest these kids or educate them. I really don't care, just make sure my life isn't aggravated by them again.
Stephen Saul, London, UK

I have become more aware of crime in my area; not least because I was mugged a couple of months ago but also because of incidents that have happened to people I know. The police didn't seem to be able to do a lot and the local paper is full of incidents like mine every week.

I have changed some of the things I do, like getting a cab straight home at night and not walking past trouble hot spots. What annoys me is the government's reaction to this report which clearly states that crime is up by 7%. Now the government says that the statisticians say that it's really only 2%. Why don't they just admit there has been a significant rise and get on with sorting it out?!
Daren, Bristol, UK

Whether or not crime is increasing, anecdotal evidence proves nothing. I've lived in London for almost three years and the only people who've attempted to commit crimes against me are estate agents. It's only worth comparing evidence from a single source. The only single source that's available is the British Crime Survey. Comparing anything else is like comparing apples and pears, and therefore proves nothing.
Ben, UK

I feel safe here in North Carolina ever since the state issued me a concealed carry permit. A pocket pistol in the hands of an honest man deters crooks.
Harry Chadwick, USA

I certainly feel less safe today. As a householder, the police cannot protect me and the law virtually forbids me to protect myself. I am disabled and a pensioner with a very limited amount of strength at my disposal however I can't use sprays, guns, prods or any other types of weaponry to protect my home or I would probably end up in prison as others have done.

Yes, I am frightened - many people are and what makes it worse is that all we get is pure waffle from the government. The answers are glaringly simple, but they just don't seem to care about us.
Allan, UK

All we get in return is a seemingly endless set of statistics

Alan Sadler, UK
My wife and I are both in our 50s, middle-class, if we have a label. We feel under siege in a country where the government seems not to care about those who work and contribute to the society we all live in; we are just seen as a milch cow to provide for the failed strategies of successive governments. All we get in return is a seemingly endless set of statistics - 2% of this, 7% of that, yet they care not that people's perceptions are, rightly, that we're drowning in a sea of thuggery that they have allowed. You, the politicians have failed us.
Alan Sadler, UK

Surprise, surprise! Thank you Mrs Thatcher and her successors. If you create a large undereducated, disenfranchised and unemployed underclass as manipulative fodder for the free market, what do you expect? Add consumerism which excludes many, and increasingly violent films and television, light blue touch paper and stand well back! Perhaps the impending financial and market crash will give pause and redirect energies to what really matters: people, all people not just the greedy, wealthy "elite".
Bill Wright, New Zealand

Of course crime is going down. The media want to sell papers and so try to scare the public but England is much less violent than it was 10 years ago. Look at our football matches, and our city centres (remember the riots)?
John, UK

The increase in crime will be placing an even greater strain upon the already over burdened police force. Why are the police special constabulary not paid for their valuable contributions in augmenting the "thin blue line"? I feel the retention rate of these officers would be increased substantially if they were to receive at least a token salary for giving up their own free time.
Steve Buckland, England

The UK is suffering an unprecedented rise in lawlessness, everyone knows that. Cherie Blair should exit her "gated community" at Number 10, and roll down the windows of her armoured Jaguar to see that people are generally afraid. The government needs to stop gimmicks and sound bites, and institute real programmes with five year achievable and measurable goals. London needs to take a page from the New York mayor's book; make computers work against crime and use the Met's precious resources to catch crime when it's happening.
Mike Dolan, UK

I have been robbed twice. In both cases the criminals were later caught. In one case the perpetrator was ordered to pay me 1,000 compensation - I only got 15. Three things are clear to me; crime pays, the victim remains the victim and the law is an ass.
Pete, UK

Yes, there is definitely more crime in Britain. And it will keep increasing until the do-gooders are made to see how wrong they are in supporting the criminal. The politicians need to show more care for the victims rather than the criminal. Why should a 14-year-old have anonymity from being named? If they are old enough to rob and terrorise people, then they should be named and shamed.
Dinesh, England

For a healthy society there has to be a certain level of crime

Dave, UK
I feel that the more small crime is suppressed through surveillance and other technologies, the more violent the remaining crime becomes. I think for a healthy society there has to be a certain level of crime. Everyone knows the dodgy geezer down the pub with the "iffy" video recorders for sale. Just like a person, there has to be good and bad, the more the bad is suppressed the worse it becomes, smaller but worse.
Dave, UK

I recently visited the UK, after an absence of six years. Friends advised me to remove watches, hide my mobile and not pay bar bills with large notes! I was also advised not to walk after dark and if anyone should ask you directions then get out of their way as soon as possible! The UK has become extremely dirty, scruffy, expensive and unsafe to tourists and I will never visit again. Perhaps the increase in crime is because the gap between the haves and have nots is increasing uncontrollably and has encouraged the philosophy "You have got it - I will take it."
Chris Lee, Malaysia

I believe the majority of crimes are committed by drug addicts who cannot afford their next fix. Remove the cause of such crimes, by legalising all drugs in the same way alcohol is legal. The authorities are fighting a losing battle trying to prevent the cultivation and production of narcotics around the world. The money could be put to better use elsewhere.
Chris Morgan, UK

I am an ex-pat living in Australia, returning to the UK every two years or so. On my recent visit I was struck by the increase in aggression, unfriendliness and generally an absence of any joy in the populace. People seemed unhappy and frustrated with life, this frustration often turning into abuse and violence. The government's response to any overseas "problem" is aggression and violence, and the population is following its leaders' example. I'm afraid the rising crime, the general uncaring, is a case of "As ye sow, so shall ye reap."
Michael D, Australia

Talking PointFORUM
Street crime
You asked experts about crime in the UK
Do you feel less safe?



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