Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Thursday, 26 April 2007 17:56 UK

Robberies buck falling crime rate

Figures showing a falling trend in recorded violent crime

Total recorded crime fell slightly in England and Wales in the last part of 2006 - although robberies went up.

Statistics released by the Home Office show the number of offences recorded by the police fell by 2% between October and December 2006.

Shooting deaths rose from 53 to 57, but police recorded an overall drop in firearms offences of 16%.

The British Crime Survey study of public experience says levels remain largely stable, except for vandalism.

Crime figures for England and Wales are complex because the government relies on two separate measures - incidents recorded by the police and the British Crime Survey (BCS), a rolling study of thousands of people.

The BCS is broadly regarded as the more reliable because it includes unreported crimes, although there are some arguments over its methodology.

In a time of increased media attention surrounding crimes involving firearms, firearms offences have actually significantly reduced
Ian Johnston, of the Association of Chief Police Officers

The BCS suggests violent crime remained stable - but recorded crime figures show 4,000 fewer incidents during the last three months of 2006. The greatest falls were in serious violent crime, said the Home Office.

Overall, the BCS suggests crime remained stable at just above 11 million offences in 2006.

The risk of being a victim of crime stood at 24%, a marginal increase on the previous year.

Thefts from cars also remained stable, but vandalism rose by 11% according to the BCS.

Crimes recorded by the police indicated burglaries fell by 3%, vehicle thefts by 3% and violent crime by 2% while robberies rose by 8% and drug offences by 3%.

The Home Office Minister, Tony McNulty, said: "We have cut robbery by a fifth over the past five years - but any rise, however slight, reminds us there is still work to do.

Domestic burglary: -3%
Other burglary: -4%
Vehicle-related theft: -3%
Other theft: -3%
Fraud/forgery: -15%
Criminal damage: +2%
Note: Figures refer to change between the last three months of 2005 and the last three of 2006

"Mobile phones are still involved in over 50% of street robberies, which is why we have established regional robbery action plans to address a problem concentrated in specific areas.

"We have also worked with the mobile phone industry to ensure over 80% of stolen phones are now blocked within 48 hours."

Mr McNulty added figures showed a steady fall in crime during the decade, with the BCS suggesting the drop was as large as a third.

But shadow home secretary David Davis said Thursday's figures showed the government was still failing to tackle street crime and public concerns about the misuse of drugs.

Tough talk

"The government cannot ignore the link between these two factors," he said.

"Drugs not only destroy communities, they undermine our efforts to combat other crime - particularly street robbery, which is fuelled by drugs."

For the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg said the figures showed ministers were still not doing enough to stop re-offending.

He added: "If tough talk, government gimmicks and endless legislation could cut crime, Britain would be the safest country in the world."

"But these figures show that is very far from being the case."

Ian Johnston, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, also head of the British Transport Police, said that while robberies were up, the figures showed targeted operations on key crimes worked.

He added: "In a time of increased media attention surrounding crimes involving firearms, firearms offences have actually significantly reduced."

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