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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 July 2007, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Crime 'stable' but robbery rises
Vandalism
Vandalism reports increased by 10% in the British Crime Survey
Crime in England and Wales has remained stable during the past year, according to Home Office figures.

Police recorded the first fall in overall violence in eight years, but drug offences and robbery went up.

The figures also indicate 24-hour drinking laws have not changed rates of alcohol-fuelled crime, but have merely shifted incidents to the early hours.

The Home Office said it needed to boost public confidence in statistics because 65% believed crime was rising.

Crime trends graphic

The figures show the risk of being a victim of crime - at 24% - has increased by one per cent since 2005/6, but is still lower than the peak of 40% suggested by the British Crime Survey (BCS) in 1995.

The report released by the Home Office combines figures from the BCS - which polls people's experiences of crime - and crimes recorded by the police.

The two sets of figures can show some differing results, but the two together are considered by the government to give a more "comprehensive picture of crime" than could be gleaned from either source alone.

All crime was up 3% according to BCS interviews with the public - which the report said represented no significant change for the second year running - while the 5.4m crimes recorded by police had fallen by 2% since 2005/6.

The Home Office figures also revealed:

  • Robberies were up by 3% and drug offences by 9%, according to police figures
  • Domestic burglaries and theft were down 3% and 4% respectively - and sexual offences fell by 7%
  • The BCS survey suggested vandalism had increased by 10%, which the report said was the only BCS crime category to show a statistically significant change since 2005/6
  • BCS figures for violent crimes suggested a 5% increase but Home Office statisticians said the rise was not significant
  • The violent crimes figure indicated a 6% rise in woundings and a 9% rise in assaults with no injury
  • But police figures showed a 1% drop in the number of violent crimes

On publishing the annual figures the Home Office said it needed to rethink how it describes some crimes after an independent report last year warned the public do not understand the statistics, leading to a loss in confidence.

Ministers say they want a debate on what makes a violent crime because some of the offences currently classed as violent do not involve injuries.

Let the police do the job they really want to do
David Ruffley, shadow home affairs minister

They also said crime rates varied so much from area to area that police forces would soon start publishing local monthly crime figures to give the public a better idea of what was happening, they added.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: "One of the biggest challenges we face is that public perceptions of crime levels remain high. Every community faces its own unique challenges when it comes to crime."

'Hype'

The home secretary said information on local crime would become more accessible.

Announcing a new crime strategy, Ms Smith said from next July everyone would have access to a street-by-street "story of crime" in their area from local police data posted on the internet.

CRIME FIGURES IN FULL

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Shadow Home Secretary David Davis accused the government of "fiddling the figures" to convince the public crime was not going up.

He said: "For 10 years, the government has been trying to claim that crime is coming down.

"Unfortunately for the government, the public obstinately insist on believing their own experience rather than ministerial claims and simply know that crime is going up.

"All the fiddled figures in the world will not change their minds."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg blamed the heightened fear of crime among the public on the "hype and breathlessness" with which the government had spoken about the issue.

Extra funding

BCS crime trends suggest crime has fallen since 1997. Police recorded crime figures show an increase compared with a decade ago, although in 1998 there was a change in the way the Home Office counted crime, with additional summary offences added and methods of counting becoming victim-focused.

HAVE YOUR SAY
To be persuaded crime is going down, look at the government figures. To be persuaded it is not, look out the window
B Anderson

Meanwhile, police chiefs have been criticised by a committee of MPs who concluded giving police forces extra cash had not helped reduce crime.

The Home Affairs select committee found the drop in levels of crime had taken place before the injection of funds began.

In real terms, police budgets went up in England and Wales by 40% from 8.5bn in 1996/7 to 12bn in 2006/7 and the number of officers rose by 11%, according to a report by the committee.

But its acting chairman, David Winnick, said: "We know the police have had a major increase in funding over the past decade but it is much more difficult to tell what they have done with it."


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