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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Crime survey results 'dreadful'
A "snapshot" of crime in England and Wales has found that more than 16,500 crimes are reported each day - one every five seconds.

It also found more than 5,400 people were arrested each day - the equivalent of one every 15 seconds - but far fewer than the crimes committed.

The 24-hour snapshot findings
More than 16,500 crimes
More than 5,400 arrests
21,788 police hours processing arrests
3,800 case files sent to CPS
560 people received into custody
Probation Service had 200,000 active cases
CPS had 7,500 cases in court
Victim Support received 3,000 referrals
The charity saw or spoke to 4,000 victims and witnesses

The 24-hour survey was conducted on 1 May by the Metropolitan Police to highlight the huge task faced by the criminal justice system.

Met Commissioner Sir John Stevens said the figures showed a true picture at time when the system was "creaking" under the strain - especially in the courts.

He accepted "all" parties working in criminal justice, including the police, were to blame.

"We the police are the gatekeepers of that system.

"Without any doubt at all we've got to get our act in order - the preparation of case papers, the training of some of our officers in statement-taking, how we treat victims and witnesses ourselves."


The criminal justice system needs reform, focusing... on fighting and reducing crime and putting the care of victims and witnesses at its heart

Lord Falconer
He said delays in the system had to be examined.

Shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin said the figures were "dreadful" but "no surprise".

"This government has failed to get crime under control and nor will they until we get the police back on to our streets as they have done in New York," he said.

But Home Office minister Lord Falconer stressed the figures were not necessarily typical, and said many of the crimes reported could turn out not to be offences after all.

Working together

He said, however, the criminal justice system faced huge challenges and needed urgent "reform".

Of those arrested
2,395 charged
398 cautioned
292 formally warned
1,502 bailed to return
814 released
"We are about to publish a criminal justice White Paper focusing the criminal justice system on fighting and reducing crime and putting the care of victims and witnesses at its heart."

The snapshot showed the police spent nearly 22,000 hours a day processing arrests.

"The place for police officers is out on the streets, protecting the public, not in the police station, dealing with paperwork," said Sir John.

The figures would be used to inform "serious debate" at a conference on Friday with criminal justice workers from New York, he said.

Sir John hoped it would also influence a forthcoming government White Paper on criminal justice, due to be published within the next few months.

He called on all the crime-fighting agencies to work together better.

Police time
One crime every five seconds
An arrest every 15 seconds
Four hours to process each arrest

"The huge and complex workload facing the system every single day is not something that can be effectively tackled in isolation.

"It is vital that all the agencies involved work closely together if we are to deliver real justice and do all we can to deter people from turning to crime."

Philip Gearing, head of criminal justice policy at the CPS, agreed "closer co-operation" was needed.

"We need real, practical action and an improvement in information sharing."

National Probation Service Director Eithne Wallis also stressed the importance of working "extremely closely" with partner agencies.

Reality 'worse'

Although the figures appear staggering - a total of 3,372 crimes were reported in London alone - the most recent Home Office survey suggested the true picture was even worse.

The 2001 British Crime Survey asked adults about crimes they had experienced in the previous year - including those unreported to or recorded by police.

It found 12.9 million crimes had been committed in England and Wales in 2000 - equivalent of 24 a minute - almost double the figure suggested in the Met snapshot.

However, it found that crime had fallen by more than 10% on 1999. Other crime surveys have also shown crime falling in recent years.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"Every two seconds a crime is commited"
See also:

25 Oct 01 | UK
19 Jul 01 | UK
10 May 02 | UK Politics
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