Page last updated at 15:31 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

Survey shows fear of crime rising

The BCS is a survey of 46,000 people aged 16 and over

The proportion of people who think crime has risen has seen a large increase, despite overall rates of crime falling, a survey suggests.

The British Crime Survey (BCS) indicates 84% of people in England and Wales think crime has risen nationally.

And some 46% say it has risen in their local area, with both figures about 10 percentage points higher than 2008.

But the BCS's quarterly crime figures indicate the risk of becoming a victim of crime has fallen to a 27-year low.

The BCS is a survey of 46,000 people aged 16 and above, which releases quarterly crime figures and asks about the perception of crime.

Home Office statisticians said the increase in people's fear of crime could be due to changes in the way the survey had been conducted.

The question of whether people feel crime has increased has been slightly rephrased and comes at a different stage in the questionnaire.

Asked to explain the increase, Home Secretary Alan Johnson said the media had a "role to play" in reporting crime, but people tended to think high-profile crimes were more prevalent then they actually were.

'Misrepresenting' figures

Mr Johnson also suggested the government had failed to convince people about the reliability of official statistics that show falling crime rates.

"Maybe we're not getting our argument across about the importance of the BCS," he said.

The home secretary also issued a challenge to the Conservative leader, David Cameron, whom he accused of "misrepresenting" violent crime figures in comments he made on Wednesday.

Mr Johnson said he would be writing to Mr Cameron to ask him "where he got his figures from".

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