Page last updated at 10:48 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 11:48 UK

Burglary numbers continue to rise

A burglar breaking into a house
Burglary up: But Home Office says it is acting

The number of burglaries in England and Wales has risen for the second quarter in a row, official figures show.

But the figures, for the three months to December 2008, show that the overall number of crimes recorded by the police fell by 4%, compared with 2007.

The number of killings involving a knife has fallen - but robberies at knifepoint have risen.

The statistics show that violence overall has fallen 6% compared with figures for the same period of 2007.

The Home Office uses two methods to measure crime - actual incidents recorded by the police and figures from the British Crime Survey, a large-scale rolling programme which asks the public about their experiences of crime.

'Too complacent'

The risk of being a victim of any type of crime remains at a historically low level as police recorded crime figures show a continuing and long-term fall in offences reported to officers.

According to the figures, burglaries went up by 4% between October and December 2008 compared with the same period of 2007. It is the second consecutive 4% quarterly rise.

RECORDED CRIME Q4 2007 - 2008 (000's of offences)
2007: 72.5; 2008: 75.6
2007: 231; 2008: 218
2007: 58.7; 2008: 62.1
Source: Home Office/National Statistics

The Conservatives have partly laid the blame for the rise on the credit crunch, while the Liberal Democrats said the government has been "too complacent" on crime.

Ministers said they were already taking steps to help people improve home security.

BCS figures suggest burglary is stable rather than rising. Separate police force figures, provided to the BBC, show many areas are still recording falls in burglaries compared with the average national rise.

While robberies overall fell by 2%, police saw a 5% rise in robberies with knives or sharp instruments. The BCS found a 25% rise in theft from the person, while offending was stable in almost all the other categories.

The provisional figures also show the number of killings involving a knife fell by 12% in the three months to December 2008 compared to the same period the previous year.

Crime Survey
Graph shows percentage change in numbers of recorded crimes Oct-Dec 2008, compared with the same quarter 2007

Knife crime

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said that the figures continued the long-term trend of crime having fallen by nearly 40% since 1997. He especially welcomed the fall in knife-related killings and sexual offences.

"We know we are facing some new challenges now and are focussing our experience and knowledge to tackle these head-on.

Mark Easton
Theft from the person up 25% in England and Wales?! What is going on?

"That is why we have already responded to early concerns about burglary - working with police, charities, DIY stores and insurers to increase enforcement activity, target repeat offenders and give practical advice to help people secure their homes."

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: "The figures paint a worrying picture of rising levels of many serious crimes. In particular, the jump in burglaries and robberies at knifepoint is an alarming step in the wrong direction.

"All of this underlines the need for the government to stop wrapping up our police in unnecessary paperwork and get more officers back on to the streets.

"The figures on knife robberies will completely undermine claims by ministers that they are getting to grips with knife crime in Britain. They have got to do much better than this."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said as the recession took hold, Britain faced a "credit crunch crime wave" and needed more police on the street.

"Labour has been far too complacent about falling crime rates and too eager to take the credit, since crime has been decreasing across western Europe over the last decade," he said.

Graph: recorded crime
Graph shows change in the BCS based on interviews in the 12 months from December 2008 compared to the previous 12 months

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