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Chief Constable Tony Butler
"The way the Home Office collects the data isn't very helpful"
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Tuesday, 18 July, 2000, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Violent crime figures 'not accurate'
men and beer
Drunken fights account for increases in violent crime
A top police officer has hit back at the latest figures showing a rise in crime saying a change in the way offences are classed is in part responsible.

Home Office figures showed that violent crimes against people were up by 16% from 1998 to 1999.

But Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Tony Butler said the type of crimes being classed as violent has changed.

People are simply pushed over in an argument and that's a violent crime

Tony Butler
"The difficulty we have got today is the way the Home Office collects the data isn't very helpful in the debate," he told Radio 4's Today programme.

"80% of that increase is common assault or harassment," Mr Butler said

"We are now recording cases where people are simply pushed over in an argument and that's a violent crime.

"You don't even have to have an injury for it to be recorded," he said.

Domestic violence

Mr Butler said he was not saying that type of offence was acceptable but called for a sensible debate about the figures.

He also said another reason why violent crime was on the increase was because police were encouraging people to report violent attacks.

"Domestic violence now accounts for 18% of all violent crime that we are recording nationally," he said.

Violent attacks by young men drinking late at night in city centres are up by 12%.

Mr Butler said that was an area where more police would be of value.

car break in
Car crime and burglaries are both down
Chief Constable Tony Burden, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, agreed.

"We have got to tackle this problem and tackle it effectively," he said.

Mr Butler pointed out that while violent crime is on the increase, the instances of other offences in the UK were very low.

"The chance of being robbed in the UK is very, very low - less than two in a thousand people."

"It is true that it has gone up by 26% - but that's a relatively small number of crimes."

He also said burglary and car crime were down again, as part of a six-year trend.

Mr Butler said he thought it was more important to let members of the public know whether they were at greater risk of being the victims of crime.

"What we should be debating is how do we inform the public about the relevant risks," he said.

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See also:

18 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Big rise in violent crime
17 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Crime statistics deal new blow to Blair
03 Jul 00 | UK Politics
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