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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 January 2007, 21:56 GMT
Risk of suffering crime 'rises'
Recorded crime as a whole has fallen
The risk of becoming a victim of crime in England and Wales is rising for the first time since 1995, figures suggest.

The British Crime Survey, regarded as the most reliable measure of crime by the Home Office, said the risk had risen one percentage point to 24.3%.

In a separate measure, the number of crimes reported to police had fallen 3% in the third quarter of 2006 compared with the same period the previous year.

Both recorded crime and the BCS suggested rises in robberies.

The risk of becoming a victim of crime is still lower than its peak of 40% in 1995.

Almost one in 10 women - and 7% of men - told the BCS they had suffered from stalking over the past year. Almost a quarter of women said they had been stalked in their lifetimes.

Prime Minister Tony Blair congratulated police on the recorded crime figures.

"The most feared crime - violence that causes injury - is down 7%. Sexual offences are down 4% and crimes involving firearms are down 14% compared with last year," he said.

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But shadow home secretary David Davis said the overall crime figures showed "Labour continue to fail on crime".

"Robbery is a serious violent crime. For Tony Blair to welcome these figures shows a staggering complacency towards public safety."

The number of robberies recorded in England and Wales between July and September last year rose 1% on the same period in 2005, the police figures suggested.

And the BCS showed robberies up 14% over the whole of last year, measured from October 2005 to September 2006.

'Inexplicable' policies

Overall recorded crime fell to 1,359,300 offences in the third quarter, but drug offences rose 9% to 45,800. The rise has previously been blamed on increased warnings for cannabis possession.

Vandalism: Up 11%
Domestic burglary: Down 4%
All vehicle thefts: No change
Thefts from the person: Up 14%
Violent crime: Up 2%
All crime: Up 4%

The BCS also suggested an 11% rise in vandalism over the last year.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell called for "urgent investigation" into the link between drugs and robberies.

"Ten years of tough talk and endless new legislation have done nothing to make us safer," he said.

"Drug-related crime is so widespread that it is inexplicable that the government should be allowing residential drug rehabilitation centres to close."

'Mindless vandalism'

The BCS - measured from October 2005 to September 2006 - corroborated the fall in violence causing injury, with a drop of 9%, although it did show a 15% rise in violence not causing injury.

Officials said neither shift was regarded as statistically significant, and could be subject to sampling error.

The same qualification applied to the BCS's evidence of a 14% rise in robbery.

The large and statistically significant rise of 11% in vandalism shown by the BCS comes after years of government efforts to curb anti-social behaviour.

Mr Blair said: "The public are not going to put up with mindless vandalism - and I am pleased that more people are reporting cases of graffiti.

"Of course there is more to do. Every victim is one too many. We need to continue the drive against street crime and the use of firearms."

BBC News home editor Mark Easton said many people might find it hard to believe the BCS figures for "intimate violence" which suggested in the last year 60,000 women had been raped, 660,000 women had been sexually assaulted and 120,000 women had been partially choked or strangled by a partner.

But he said while the final figures might not be totally accurate, they provided interesting evidence of trends.

The BCS sees people interviewed in their homes about crime they have suffered.

It is regarded by many as a more reliable measure as the alternative, recorded crime, can be heavily influenced by the prioritising of police resources as well as people's fears that certain crimes will not be pursued and are therefore not worth reporting to police.

But some criticise the BCS as it is subject to sampling errors and also makes no measure of crime among under-16s, a key group for crime trends such as mobile phone theft.

Crime graph

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