Page last updated at 16:54 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 17:54 UK

Recorded crime figures show fall

Grandmother Ann Withers
Grandmother Ann Withers fought off hammer-wielding thieves with a broom

Police-recorded crime in England and Wales fell 9% in the 12 months to March, latest figures suggest.

The first reliable figures for knife crime showed there were 22,000 offences last year.

The statistics also show that while the risk of being a victim is at its lowest ever level, people still think that the rate is going up.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she was "extremely pleased" with the overall reduction.

The annual crime report for 2007-2008 reveals the longest recorded period of falling crime - down 48% from 1995.

It shows there were five million recorded crimes. All the main categories were down, including violent crime and sex offences, but drug offences were up 18%, gun crime was up 2% and murder was up 3%.

Scotland compiles its statistics separately and its annual crime report is due to be published in September.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland published its 2007-2008 crime report in May.

FORCES WITH MOST KNIFE CRIMES*
Metropolitan police: 7,409
West Midlands: 2,303
Greater Manchester: 2,294
West Yorkshire: 915
Merseyside: 757
South Wales: 585
Nottinghamshire: 548
England & Wales total: 22,151
*Attempted murder, GBH, wounding, robbery

It showed a 10.5% drop from the previous year, making it the lowest level of crime recorded since 1998.

Home Office experts say the latest figures show that offences are concentrated in hotspots - some of which have experienced localised increases in crime - and are not evenly spread around England and Wales.

They also say the figures mirror trends in falling crime seen throughout the developed world.

The annual report combines police-recorded crime and statistics from the British Crime Survey (BCS), a victimisation survey which asked 47,000 adults about their experience of crimes.

For the types it covers, the BCS can provide a better reflection of the true extent of crime because it includes ones that are not reported to the police and crimes which are not recorded by them.

The BCS showed the risk of being a victim of crime has fallen from 24 to 22%, the lowest level recorded since the survey began in 1981.

However, 65% of people said they thought rates had gone up nationally. But the same proportion again thought crime had fallen locally.

The overall picture from the survey was that crime was down 10% to 10.1 million crimes. It also showed that 947,000 violent offences were caused by alcohol.

Graph

Home Office Minister Tony McNulty said local communities and police should be "very encouraged" that their efforts to cut crime were paying off.

The home secretary, meanwhile, said the government had exceeded its reduction target, but was committed to doing more "so that everyone feels improvement".

She acknowledged that "knives are still being used in the most serious violent incidents" and said the Youth Crime Action plan published this week was part of a wider package of measures aimed at tackling the problem.

CRIME FIGURES IN FULL

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Serious violent crimes involving a blade have previously been bundled with other attacks, but since April last year officers have recorded them separately in light of growing public concern.

Police recorded 22,151 offences involving knives last year in England and Wales, including grievous bodily harm, attempted murder, woundings and robbery but not murder.

It amounts to an average of 60 knife offences every day.

The statistics include a force-by-force breakdown of knife crime, with the highest number of offences - 7,409 - recorded in London.

Gordon Brown said he wanted to make carrying a blade as "unacceptable" as having a gun on the streets.

"It is because we have identified the problem of knife crime, and particularly in some hotspots of the country, that we have stepped up our action dramatically," he said.

"We will do everything in our power to prevent people having knives."

Crime hotspots in England and Wales

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