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The BBC's Jeremy Paxman speaks to Charles Clarke
Home Office minister dismisses the report as "trivial"
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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 23:32 GMT 00:32 UK
UK crime worse, says US report
Big Ben
Last year 3.9 million US visitors came to London
The Home Office has dimissed an American television report's claims that Britain is more violent than the US as a "simplistic comparison".

The TV report, which followed news of an apparent drug rape of an American teacher in London, described the streets and shopping centres of Britain as a "battleground" of crime.

CBS News called the UK one of the most violent urban societies in the western world, where people were more likely to be burgled, twice as likely to be robbed and two-and-a-half times more likely to be assaulted than in America.

Home Office Minister Charles Clarke
Charles Clarke: report is "absolute nonsense"
But the Home Office has hit back at the statistics, claiming that the average American is seven times more likely to be murdered than their British counterpart and 60 times more likely to be shot.

The row came as government sources confirmed a crime summit will be held at Downing Street next week at which Prime Minister Tony Blair will urge police to cut violence and disorder.

It is reported that chief constables from the Metropolitan, West Midlands, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire forces will be given 20m to crack down on street crime.

'Trivialised comparisons'

Home Office Minister Charles Clarke dismissed the CBS News report as "absolute nonsense", saying the way offences were defined and collated varied from country to country.

He told the BBC's Newsnight programme: "Violent crime is a very serious issue and needs to be very seriously addressed, but I don't think it's helped by the trivialised comparisons the CBS engaged in."


Mayhem is on the way

CBS News
Home Office figures showed the murder rate in the US in 1998 was 6.3 per 100,000 people compared with 1.4 per 100,000 in England and Wales.

The murder rate in London is 2.9 per 100,000 compared with 8.6 per 100,000 in New York and 49.15 per 100,000 in Washington DC.

A report produced by the US Department of Justice in 1998 would appear to support the Home Office's claims.

It shows the murder rate was 5.7 times higher in the US than England and Wales and the rape rate was about three times higher.

The Big Apple
Figures show people are much more likely to get shot in New York than London
The report also showed firearms were used in 68% of murders in the US compared with 7% in England and Wales, and in 41% of robberies in America against 5% in England and Wales.

But the rates for assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft were all lower in America than in England and Wales.

Americans watching the CBS report, which was also shown on Sky News, were presented with an alarming picture of Britain.

CBS News anchorman Dan Rather said: "Now, like the US, the UK has a crime problem. And believe it or not, except for murder, theirs is worse than ours."

He promised that: "Mayhem is on the way."
Covent Garden
Popular spots like Covent Garden are safe, say tourism officials
News of the report was not welcomed by British tourism officials, who maintain that the country is still a safe place to visit.

Last year 3.9 million US visitors came to Britain and this figure is expected to top four million this year.

A statement from the London Tourist Board said the CBS report presented "an image of crime in Britain which is distinctly at odds with London's reputation as one of the safest, friendliest cities in the world".

The board and the British Tourist Authority said they would monitor whether the story had an impact on visitor numbers.

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08 May 00 | Americas
US crime rate falls again
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