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Tuesday, 18 July, 2000, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
Manchester v Sheffield: A tale of two cities

Violent crime and street burglaries are on the rise, according to the Home Office. BBC News Online compares two cities at opposite ends of the crime tables.

Manchester has one of the highest crime rates outside London while Sheffield, its similar-sized neighbour across the Pennines, has fared far better.

Crime hotspots
Central London, Manchester, Hastings, Caerphilly in Gwent and Hull
Robberies up 26.1%
Attacks up 16%
Crimes solved dropped from 29% to 25%
The city has less than a fifth of Manchester's violent crime and half the burglaries for the number of households.

Yet little separates the cities, both of which had to find their feet after mass unemployment in the 1980s.

Sheffield lost 90% of its steel industry jobs in the 1980s, ripping the heart out of the city's job market. It has since transformed itself into the call centre capital of the nation, with the finance sector another big employer.

Manchester, a boom town in the 19th Century, hit the dole-drums in the 1980s. But with four universities and a thriving music scene, the city has been a bastion of cool Britannia for the past decade.

MANCHESTER

Demographics The population of Manchester - the city - numbers 429,000, of which 73% live in low-value properties (council tax band A).

Manchester 1999
The rebuilt city centre, three years after an IRA bomb attack
Crime figures Second only to London. Police reported 27.3 violent attacks per 1,000 people (11,726 in total), 1.6 sexual offences per 1,000 (674), 9.7 robberies per 1,000 (4,148), 24.4 burglaries per 1,000 (10,503), and 22.9 vehicle thefts per 1,000 (9,860).

Crime trends Crime fell by 7% in the city centre and by 22% in east Manchester in the 12 months to March. Across the region covered by Greater Manchester Police, crime levels rose by 4%, close to the national average of 3.8%. Although 10.5% fewer homes were burgled, robberies rose by 13.1% and violent attacks by 12.1%.

Crime busting The council works with the police on crime-cutting projects. The central city is under the watchful eye of CCTV camera and "city rangers" on patrol. Bouncers learn skills such as conflict management before working the city's pubs and clubs. The government has granted police 3.2m to tackle violence and street crime.

What the police say The figures are based on the number of crimes committed in an area divided by those living there. The inner-city is a mecca for revellers in the evenings, and the figures do not take into account that many victims of crime - particularly alcohol-related offences - live elsewhere.

SHEFFIELD

Demographics The Sheffield population numbers 531,000, of which 60% live in low value properties. Student flats and high-rise council blocks make up much of the inner-city residences.

The Full Monty
Sheffield's steel workers had to find new jobs
Crime figures The safest of the big cities, and lower crime rates than many semi-rural areas. Sheffield police reported 5.5 violent attacks per 1,000 people (2,918 in total), 0.4 sexual offences per 1,000 (202), 1.2 robberies per 1,000 (650), 13.8 burglaries per 1,000 (7,329), and 10.4 vehicle thefts per 1,000 (5,532).

Crime trends Figures for Sheffield were not available. Across the region covered by South Yorkshire Police, crime levels fell by 1%. Although burglaries fell 12%, robberies rose 14%.

Crime busting Local authorities work in partnership with South Yorkshire Police, the Probation Service and local voluntary groups. The Safer Sheffield Steering Group targets repeat offenders, and a dedicated team works with young offenders and their families. Police are piloting a scheme to cut burglaries, which involves targeting known housebreakers, and giving residents alarms and crime prevention advice.

What the police say They credit their work with other organisations - and the co-operation of local people - with helping reduce crime figures.

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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
18 Jul 00 | Talking Point
How can we win the fight against crime?
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