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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 January 2008, 12:54 GMT
Cumbria 'safest county to live'
Police officers at shooting scene
Figures appear contrary to some media coverage on killings
Cumbria is the safest place to live in England and Wales in relation to the number of killings, figures show.

Overall during 2006-07 there were 13.7 killings per 1m population, but there were none in Cumbria, which shared a five-year low with Dyfed-Powys.

London (22.4 per 1m) and Manchester (21.9) - the scenes of a spate of youth shootings - recorded the highest rates.

The Home Office said the overall crime figures showed the risk of being a victim of crime was at a historic low.

The figures, released by the Home Office, also show a 31% rise in deaths among under-16s was down to more killings by a parent.

While the rate for murders, manslaughters and infanticide are higher than the previous year, the long-term trend remains down, contrary to some public perceptions.

Graphic

According to the figures, police recorded 757 killings in the year from April 2006, down 2% on the previous year's 769.

Three-quarters of victims were male, with those most likely to be killed aged between 21 and 29.

But despite high-profile media and political attention to guns, the most likely method of killing involved a knife or other "sharp instrument" - used in 35% of incidents.

The figures show that firearms offences accounted for 8% of deaths over the period - that represented 59 killings, up 10 on the previous year.

More than half of firearms incidents (excluding air guns) occurred in London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands - confirming that gun crime is tightly focused on a number of key urban areas.

Victims aged under 16-years-old accounted for almost one in 10 of all deaths. Figures show that in almost half of all these deaths, the killer was a parent.

Almost seven out of 10 female victims knew their killer - but fewer than half of male victims knew theirs.

Relationship graphic

Police recorded 9,650 firearms crimes over the year, or 18,489 if including air guns.

The overall number of firearms offences fell by 14%, according to the figures, to a rate of one incident per 600 crimes, excluding air guns.

Handguns were used in four out of 10 recorded firearms crimes while imitation firearms appeared in just over a quarter of incidents.

Imitation firearms include ball-bearing guns, soft air weapons, deactivated firearms and blank firing arms.

Just over a fifth of victims of firearms offences were aged between 21 and 29. Some 15% were aged between 16 and 21 and 10% were between 11 and 16-years-old.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said the figures showed homicides were "thankfully low".

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But he added that firearms offences, however they occur, had a devastating impact on victims and their families.

"That is why we set up the tackling gangs action programme last year to focus on gun and gang violence in the four cities where over half of gun crime occurs."

On Wednesday, Conservative leader David Cameron called for changes to stop-and-search laws to give police greater powers to tackle gun violence in the worst hit areas.

The government is set to publish a major report into policing reform next week which is expected to include changes to stop-and-search.





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