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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 July, 2005, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Residents reassured on crime rise
Police officers
Kent, Sussex and Surrey all had below-average crime rates
Police have said the South East is still one of the safest places to live in England and Wales - despite some steep rises in violent crime.

Sussex recorded a 36% rise in violence, Kent a 12% rise, and Surrey a 10% rise.

Home Office figures showed recorded crimes were below the national average with 90 offences per 1,000 people from April 2004 to March 2005.

However, violent incidents against the person, excluding sexual offences and robberies, rose by 17%.

In Sussex there were fewer recorded crimes than the national average despite the rise in violent offences.

Recorded crimes per 1,000 people
Surrey - 67
Kent - 85
Sussex - 93
England & Wales average - 105
Source: Home Office

The county had 93 crimes per 1,000 people - lower than the national average of 105, but a rise of 4% on the previous year.

As well as releasing recorded crime statistics from police forces, the Home Office released the results of the British Crime Survey (BCS).

It showed recorded violent crime in Sussex rose by 36% - 30% more than the national increase, although the force said the most serious types of violence had fallen to fewer than one a day.

It said homicide, attempted murder and serious woundings had fallen from 310 to 287.

The force added that offences where no-one was injured - such as harassment offences - accounted for 40% of the force's recorded violent crime.

'Intelligence-led policing'

But Deputy Chief Constable Joe Edwards said the force was working hard to make Sussex safer.

"We have had real success in effectively tackling crimes such as burglary, robbery and property theft," he said.

"This has been achieved by sustained and relentless targeting of known, prolific offenders coupled with crime prevention initiatives and intelligence-led policing."

In Kent, police recorded 85 crimes per 1,000 people - 20 less than the average for England and Wales, and the second lowest rate in the South East.

Officers said the rise in violent crime by 12% could have been due to more people reporting it, and the way some incidents were recorded.

'Safe county'

They stressed that burglaries and thefts had fallen, as had levels of drugs offences and fraud.

Assistant Chief Constable Dave Ainsworth said: "Kent remains a safe county and we continue to work to stay one step ahead of the criminals, while providing an even better service to the victims of crime."

Surrey saw the lowest recorded level of crime in the South East - just 67 offences per 1,000 people - and also had the lowest rates of burglary and car-related thefts in the region.

However, violent crime rose by 10% with the majority of the increase attributed to a rise in more minor offences such as harassment and common assault, while robbery and more serious offences had fallen significantly.

Commenting on the figures, Chief Constable Bob Quick said Surrey was still one of the safest areas in England and Wales.

Contradictory statements

"By continuing to take targeted action in key areas, Surrey has sustained a level of crime per head of population that is a remarkable 37% below the national average," he said.

BBC South East's Home Affairs Correspondent Richard Smith said the Home Office report contained enough contradictory statements to support any existing view of whether crime was up or down.

He said statistically the South East remained a safe place to live, but counting methods and increased reporting of crime explained some of the rise in violent crime.

He added that police forces acknowledged that alcohol was playing an increasing role in the number of violent incidents.

Violent offences top million mark
21 Jul 05 |  UK Politics


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