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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2006, 20:17 GMT 21:17 UK
Crime 'hotspot' study angers city
Police officer in front of crime scene
The report said Nottingham had the highest murder rate
A report which labels Nottingham as the most crime-ridden place in England and Wales has been condemned by officials in the city as "fatally flawed".

Think tank Reform ranked urban areas with populations of more than 100,000 using data on burglary, murder, rape, robbery, car and gun crime from police.

It said the city had nearly four times as many crimes per 1,000 people as Southend, in Essex, which was bottom.

Nottingham council's leader called for the "damaging" report to be withdrawn.

The independent think tank's researchers used the data to come up with an overall crime level per 1,000 residents for each area.

Murder rate

Reform said the study would increase pressure on police to improve their performance in places with high crime levels.

Nottingham was calculated to have 115.54 crimes overall, followed by Leeds, with 107.22, Stockport, Greater Manchester, with 100.42 and Bradford, with 100.4.

Vehicle crime: Nottingham
Rape: Portsmouth
Assault: Leicester
Burglary: Stockport
Robbery: Manchester
Gun crime: Bradford
Murder: Nottingham
Source: Reform report

London was placed 29th out of the 55 towns and cities in the comparison, but the report's authors noted there was a "wide variation" between the safest boroughs and the most dangerous.

If ranked as cities in their own right, the boroughs of Kingston upon Thames, Sutton and Richmond would be near the bottom of the list, while Westminster, Islington and Hackney would be ranked in 7th, 10th and 11th place respectively.

Bottom of the overall list was Southend, with 30.01 crimes per 1,000 people, with Poole, in Dorset, (32.71) and Colchester, Essex, (33.9) just above it.

Nottingham also had the highest murder rate - with 5.21 crimes for every 100,000 population - followed by St Helens, Merseyside, with 4.87, according to Reform. London came 21st with 2.12.

On gun crime, Nottingham was fourth with 7.61 crimes per 10,000 residents, with Bradford (12.53) top of the list, followed by Leeds (12.45) and Northampton (10.24).

'Lies, damn lies'

Jon Collins, leader of Nottingham City Council, demanded the study be withdrawn until its authors "get their facts right" and "before it does any further damage to Nottingham, its businesses, its universities and its reputation".

How can we possibly be the most dangerous city in the country when there are 10 times as many murders in London?
Jon Collins
Nottingham City Council leader

"There are lies, damn lies and statistics. Once again, people are bandying around statistics without fully understanding them and the implications of getting them wrong," he said.

"How can we possibly be the most dangerous city in the country when, for example, there are 10 times as many murders in London, according to this report, than in Nottingham?"

Chief Superintendent Marcus Beale, police commander for Nottingham city centre, said Nottingham's population is "significantly higher" than the survey suggests and it was being unfairly compared with some areas with large swathes of countryside.

"This is a fabulous city with a thriving economy. It is renowned for its shopping, its great nightlife and attracts thousands of university students every year," he said.

He added the number of offences in the city had fallen by almost 10,000 since 2002.

"Likewise, gun crime continues to fall, dispelling the myth that Nottingham was ever the UK's gun capital," he said.

'Better information'

Report co-author Blair Gibbs said: "The government's key message that crime has been falling masks a huge variation between the safest and most dangerous urban areas.

"Better information and improved policing based on direct accountability to local communities is urgently needed to drive down crime and increase public safety."

It said its findings suggested the Home Office's key target that crime in high crime areas should fall more quickly than in other areas was "insufficiently challenging".

It said local rather than national initiatives were likely to have the greatest impact on crime.

The report gathered statistics from police forces using the Freedom of Information Act and took population data from the 2001 Census.

Hear Nottingham City Council condemn the survey

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