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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 July, 2005, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
Violent offences top million mark
Police arrest a man
Official police figures indicate violent crime is up
Violent offences in England and Wales reached record levels in 2004-5 with police recording one million crimes - up 7% from the previous year.

Police figures show 1,035,046 violent incidents against the person, excluding sexual offences and robberies.

Total recorded crime fell 6% to 5.6m incidents, but gun crime was up 6%.

Minister Hazel Blears stressed overall crime fell, saying the apparent rise in violent crime merely reflected better reporting and recording of offences.

Key figures from recorded crime and British Crime Survey data

Ms Blears, a Home Office minister, also told the BBC that the separate British Crime Survey, which interviews people to ask if they have been crime victims, showed a decrease in violent crime.

But shadow home secretary David Davis said the police figures were "further evidence that the government continues to fail on violent crime".

"With violent crime continuing to spiral out of control, it beggars belief that the government's only response is to unleash 24-hour drinking on our town and city centres," he added in a reference to proposed drink law changes.

Pilot call

There was no great demand for extended drinking times, he told the BBC.

"I see no reason to go ahead with 24 drinking until we've actually piloted, tested out some of the methods the government is proposing."


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For the Lib Dems, Mark Oaten said violent crime was "directly linked" to drink.

"Our concern is that extending opening times for up to 24 hours will make the problems of alcohol-related crime worse, not better," he said.

Ms Blears said the government had already promised to keep 24-hour licensing under review when it is introduced in November.

She rejected the call by Mr Davis to pilot the liberalisation in selected areas arguing people from outside would flood in to take advantage of longer drinking hours.

The police figures show there was a 20% fall in burglary and a 17% drop in car thefts. There were just under 11,000 gun crimes, up 6%, and 73 people were killed with guns over a 12 month period - five more than the previous year.

Sexual offences rose by 17% to 61,000 but this was said to be partly down to reforms of sex crime laws and efforts by police and politicians to encourage more victims to come forward.

We should go back to the hardline approach and concentrate on the victims than the criminals
Craig, Salford

The president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Chris Fox, meanwhile has defended police detection rates of 26%.

He said policing was not just about catching criminals - it was about preventing crime in the first place.

"There are millions of people who have not been a victim of crime that would have been if we hadn't focused on reducing crime," he said.

Crime survey

The government has also published the British Crime Survey, based on interviews with 45,000 people, which suggests violent crime is down 11%.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke said he was "extremely encouraged" by the "very positive" figures in the British Crime Survey - which the Home Office regards as more accurate.

"Although the BCS records an 11% decrease in violent crime, I recognise that this remains an issue of concern for many people and the increase in police recorded violent crime contributes significantly to the fear of crime," he said.

I accept that more needs to be done and the government is determined to achieve further reductions
Charles Clarke
The BCS estimates there were 10.8 million crimes in the year, although crimes against businesses and the under-16s are excluded.

Another estimate of crime in England and Wales published three weeks ago by the Home Office suggested there were 14.7 million crimes committed against children and adults in England and Wales in 2003-04.

Mr Clarke highlighted the government's Violent Crime Reduction Bill which he said would give new powers to police and local authorities to tackle violent criminals "and ensure they are effectively punished".

"We have made significant progress on violent crime, but I accept that more needs to be done and the government is determined to achieve further reductions," he said.

One woman describes the effect of violent crime on her


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