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Saturday, 31 August, 2002, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Police 'failing to tackle street crime'
Graphic
Police have intensified their fight against muggings
A number of police forces may fail government targets to cut street crime, one of the country's most senior officers has admitted.

Chief Superintendent Rick Naylor, vice president of the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales, confirmed some forces were struggling.

His comments came as a BBC survey suggested at least four forces would fail their targets.

Street robberies rose by 28% in the year ending April 2002, prompting an outcry in sections of the media.

Ten forces responsible for 80% of the country's muggings were targeted for a concentrated "blitz".
Blitz areas
Metropolitan Police
West Midlands
Merseyside
Greater Manchester
Avon and Somerset
South Yorkshire
Lancashire
Thames Valley
Nottinghamshire
West Yorkshire

The Robbery Reduction Initiative, which began in April, attempted to help the police and court authorities to increase detection rates and cut delays.

Mr Naylor told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday: "We need something to aim for, and at the moment we have not got anything else, so it does make sense to have a target of some sort.

'Running track'

"It is whether the target is realistic that is the vital question.

"For some of the forces it has been very realistic.

"Some were up and running with the initiative before the rest and have far more resources.

"But others probably have not started from the same place on the running track.

"It seems that some forces may not actually get there. We need to wait for the official statistics from the Home Office to see if those forces have not managed to reach the target and by how much."


We are sick and tired of improvements being derided even before statistics have been counted

Home Office

Some forces had also had to divert resources to deal with murders and other major events, Mr Naylor explained.

"Police officers have to be moved around to deal with the most urgent and the most needy."

The prime minister's personal concern over levels of street crime was demonstrated by his appointment of 10 government ministers to individually oversee the targeted police forces, says the BBC's home affairs correspondent Rory MacLean.

The Home Office set targets for each force and a report in May said six were unlikely to meet theirs.

It appears London's Metropolitan Police and the West Midlands force are still on course.

Street crime in the capital has fallen by a third since the start of the year, according to the latest police figures.

'On target'

But a BBC survey suggests there are problems elsewhere, especially in South and West Yorkshire, Nottingham and Avon and Somerset.

West Yorkshire's figures may show street crime has risen by 30% rise on the previous 12 months.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: "It is not acceptable that people are trying to rubbish the results of the government's street crime initiative before they have been collated.

Tony Blair with a police officer
Mr Blair's pledge is under pressure
"This sort of cynicism does nobody any good.

"We are sick and tired of improvements being derided even before statistics have been counted.

"We will report on progress when the figures have been properly compiled and verified.

"The pledge is to bring street crime down by the end of September, and we are on the way with that.

"We are not going to offer running commentaries on whether or not we are on target, before the figures are due to be published."

Street drug-dealing

Street crime rose by 13% in 2000-01, and has increased at a faster rate since then, despite a general decline in crime overall.

Police say the increase has been driven by mobile phone crime between young people.

The initiative provided more officers on the streets and better support for victims and witnesses.

It initially focused on muggings, but also targeted illegally-held weapons, street drug-dealing and crack-houses.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rory McLean
"Crimes such as bag snatches have increased dramatically"
See also:

15 Aug 02 | England
24 Apr 02 | Politics
17 Mar 02 | Politics
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