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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 July, 2003, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
South East is 'safest' place
Prison bars
A different system is being used to compile the figures this year
The South East is the safest place to live in England, according to new crime figures.

The government statistics which were released on Thursday show the region has the lowest rates of criminal damage, burglary and theft.

Surrey has proved to be the safest county in the region and in England with 65 crimes per 1,000 people over the past year.

In Kent the figure per 1,000 people is 83 and the statistic for Sussex is 88 which compare with the national average of 113.

'Even safer'

Surrey Police deputy chief constable Bob Quick, said: "We have sustained this impressive record despite the increasing threat of our proximity to London, where crime rates are high, police numbers are increasingly significant and criminals are being displaced."

Sussex was also found to have the two best crime reduction partnerships in the region with Horsham and Chichester district named the top performers.

Chief Constable, Ken Jones, said: "This is our second year of reductions in overall crime, making Sussex even safer."

But despite the positive figures violent crime in Kent was shown to have risen by 44%, according to the figures.

But the force's chief constable has said the big increase is due to changes in the way the figures are counted.

Chief Constable, Bob Ayling said, said: "Before, if five people were in a fight and they all claimed to have been victims, that is they claimed to have been assaulted by somebody else, in the old system that would have been one crime with five victims.

"Under the new system that would be five separate crimes of assault.

"Now you can see what sort of effect that would have on overall crime figures."

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