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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January, 2004, 14:13 GMT
Violent crime up by 14%
Violent crime
Violent crime has risen in recent months
Violent crime in England and Wales has risen 14%, Home Office figures show.

There were 289,500 violent crimes recorded between July and September last year, compared with 253,000 during the same period in 2002.

But ministers say part of the increase has resulted from new methods in the way police record crimes.

Overall crime rates remained stable, with significant falls in burglaries and vehicle crimes.

Offences of violence against the person rose 17%, serious violence such as killings were up 18%, and serious wounding and sexual offences rose 8%.

Click here to see change in crime rates

But the British Crime Survey - regarded by ministers as a more reliable indicator of trends - suggests violent crime actually dropped 3% in the year to September.

The BCS also indicates a slight fall in overall crime rates over the same period.

There is also evidence that people are less worried about crime than they used to be.

Violent crime: 289,500 (2003) 253,000 (2002) +14%
Sexual offences: 14,000 (2003) 12,900 (2002) +8%
Serious violence: 11,800 (2003) 10,000 (2002) +18%
Firearms deaths: 81 (2003) 97 (2002) -16%

Home Office Minister, Hazel Blears, said changes in police recording procedures introduced in 2002 with the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) explained much of the apparent rise in violence.

Better recording, said Ms Blears, meant police forces now had a clearer picture of crime in their areas.

Anti-social behaviour and "low-level thuggery" - both included in violent crime figures - were also more accurately recorded.

"We are also encouraging victims to report crimes, especially violent and sexual offences, and we would expect to see a rise in these figures."

Overall crime 'stable'

According to the BCS, overall crime was down 1% compared to the same quarter in 2002, while burglary, robbery and vehicle crime, fell significantly. The police figures suggested overall crime remained stable.

President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) Chris Fox said: "It is good news that reported crime generally is not rising, and in many categories continues to fall.

But he said the rise in violent crime remained a "particular concern", although he noted the BCS had suggested a fall in violent offences over the period.

The BCS figures are based on interviews with 36, 854 adults living in private households in England and Wales.

The fieldwork was carried out by BMRB Social Research between October 2002 and September 2003.

'Slowdown' in gun crime

Meanwhile, separate gun crime figures indicate a two per cent increase in firearm offences in the year to March 2003.

The figures came as the Home Office announced that offenders possessing illegal firearms would from now on receive a mandatory five-year prison sentence.

It said the gun crime figures showed "a dramatic slowdown" compared to a 34% increase the previous year.

But they also pointed to a 46% rise in the use of imitation firearms, with 1,815 recorded offences.

Change in crime rates
The British Crime Survey is seen as having the most reliable figures, and is based on interviews with the public
Recorded crime represents incidents reported to the police

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The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"We're seeing a fundamental shift back to community policing"

Rise in violent crime figures
22 Jan 04 |  Lancashire
2002 crime figures: At a glance
11 Jul 02 |  UK News

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