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Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 20:00 GMT
UK a high crime country - survey
Scales of Justice statue at Old Bailey
The study found common crime had fallen "significantly" in the EU
The UK is a "high crime country" with a very high risk of common crime, a European Union (EU) survey suggests.

The European Crime and Safety Survey said the UK had the highest levels of assaults without force and of burglary.

However, there was an "extremely low chance" of attempted bribery, and consumer fraud was "not a concern".

Home Office Minister Tony McNulty said the study, of more than 40,000 people in 2004-5, took no account of recent crime reduction measures in the UK.

Hate crimes

The survey found the level of crime in the UK was decreasing - from a 1995 peak - but not as fast as in the rest of the EU.

It also found a high level of hate crimes, and a high risk of theft from cars and personal theft.

The UK was one of only three countries, along with the Republic of Ireland and Estonia, to be above the EU average for both pickpocketing and personal theft.

The study also found the UK had high rates of burglar alarms and special locks, that British people were not over-concerned about burglary or safety on the streets, and that they were reasonably happy with police performance.

The UK is far more in favour of prison sentences for habitual burglars - at 52% - than any other EU country.

'Crime hotspots'

Across the EU, the survey found that the level of common crime had fallen significantly over the past 10 years.

However "crime hotspots" were identified as the UK, Irish Republic, Estonia, Netherlands and Denmark, which all had rates 30% higher than the European average.

The European survey is three years out of date and we have concerns about its quality and the comparisons
Tony McNulty
Home Office Minister

Greece had the highest likelihood of corruption and the greatest concern about burglaries and safety on the streets.

Hate crimes were particularly prevalent in immigrant communities in the EU, the survey found.

Citizens in the UK, Irish Republic and newer member states were much more likely to favour imprisonment than community service for persistent offenders.

'Doing badly'

Mr McNulty said: "The European Crime and Safety Survey echoes the results of our own British Crime Survey, which shows that crime and violent crime have fallen by over a third in the last 10 years.

"But the European survey is three years out of date and we have concerns about its quality and the comparisons."

The telephone interview survey of people aged over 16, conducted by a team led by Gallup Europe, included 6,000 people in the UK.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said the survey showed that the UK was doing badly in comparison to the rest of Europe.

"It is clear that 10 years of failure have left the British public more at risk from both property crime and violent crime than any other comparable country in Europe," he said.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said the UK was the "sick man of Europe" on crime.

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