Page last updated at 11:41 GMT, Thursday, 21 January 2010

Crime figures show 8% fall in England and Wales

By Dominic Casciani
BBC News

Recorded crime figures

Crime in England and Wales fell 8% in the third quarter of 2009 compared with the year before, the Home Office says.

The latest figures on recorded offences show there was an 8% drop in burglaries.

Car crime fell by a fifth and the number of robberies showed a reduction of 9%.

Ministers say the British Crime Survey's separate study reveals that the risk of being a victim of crime has reached its lowest recorded level.

According to the quarterly crime figures covering July to September 2009, there were falls in all categories of recorded crime over the period, with the exception of sexual offences which rose 5%.

Home Office experts say they do not know why sexual offences rose although police chiefs have been encouraging more women to come forward to report complaints.

Broader picture

The figures also show a drop in the number of robberies involving knives or blades - down 16% on the same period in 2008. All knife-related violence fell by 12%.

I am pleased that public confidence has increased over the last year and congratulate police and local agencies on the good progress they are making
Policing Minister David Hanson

Within violent crime, police recorded a 3% increase in firearms-related crimes - 70 offences in total across England and Wales. All other categories of violent crime fell.

Within theft, there was a 7% rise in recorded incidents of pick-pocketing and the theft of bicycles.

While police reported a significant drop in recorded crime, the British Crime Survey says that overall levels of crime remained largely stable.

British Crime Survey figures

The BCS is a nationwide survey of people's experiences of crime, rather than just incidents reported to the police. Experts use both measures to try to get a broader picture of criminality.

It found that the risk of being a victim of crime fell to 22% - one percentage point less than the previous historic low.

When asked if the police were doing a good job, 55% of people said they were. However, only four out of 10 people thought the criminal justice system as a whole was effective.

Anti-social behaviour

Other BCS figures showed a fall in the number of people who believed anti-social behaviour was a problem in their neighbourhood - down from 17% to 15%.

Figures for anti-social behaviour

The figures on burglary and anti-social behaviour were welcomed by ministers amid concerns earlier in the recession that householders could suffer as unemployment rose.

Earlier quarterly reports showed consecutive rises in burglaries - but detailed police figures behind those reports revealed that some areas were experiencing more break-ins and others no change.

Policing Minister David Hanson said: "We slashed all national targets for the police, except one on public confidence, freeing them up to deliver on the crime and antisocial behaviour issues that matter locally.

"I am pleased that public confidence has increased over the last year and congratulate police and local agencies on the good progress they are making."

But shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said the government was slashing a major crime reduction programme by halving the cash in a special budget to councils.

"This shows just how hypocritical the government is being," said Mr Grayling. "On the one hand they are boasting about how they are spending money to protect public services whilst on the quiet slashing budgets in key areas like fighting crime.

"From Gordon Brown downwards, this is a government that's trying to deceive the British public about what it's doing."

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