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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 April, 2005, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Voters 'concerned' at crime rise
A rise in violent crime of 20% in Leicestershire in the past year could shape votes in Loughborough, candidates have claimed.

Statistics from Leicestershire police indicate violent offences rose by a fifth to 24,271 - compared to a national increase of 9%.

Tory candidate Nicky Morgan and Graeme Smith, of the Lib Dems, said voters in the town are concerned at the rise.

Labour's Andy Reed said a lot of the incidents were alcohol-related.

The crime figures also showed domestic burglary fell by 11% over the past 12 months, vehicle crime was down by 19% and robbery dropped by 10%.

The big issue is how we deal with alcohol-related crime and we are working closely with the police
Andy Reed, Labour
The force attributed some of the rise in recorded violent crimes to police crackdowns on the streets during the summer and Christmas periods.

They were targeting booze-fuelled late-night violence.

Mr Smith said: "Obviously people are concerned about the rise in violent crime, but I know how hard the police in Loughborough are working.

"We propose to bring in 10,000 police officers in the country, so there can be a bigger police presence in the community.

"One of the problems in Loughborough is the high concentration of bars and pubs - I'm sure that is a contributory factor."

'Police powers'

The Lib Dem's received 13% of the votes in the 2001 general election, with the Tories securing 35%.

Ms Morgan said: "The rise in violent crime is a concern.

"We have done surveys across the constituency prior to the election period and crime is the issue of most concern to people.

"I have spent the night out with police and seen what it's like in the town centre.

"A lot of problems are caused by drink. It means a lot of people feel afraid of going there at night, but I want it to be accessible to all people."

Andy Reed, who received 22,000 votes four years ago, a majority of 14%, said: "Loughborough has a vibrant night-time economy.

"If you look closely at the (crime) figures, most of it is linked to alcohol.

"The big issue is how we deal with alcohol-related crime and we are working closely with the police on using new powers given to them to deal with that behaviour."

Bernard Sherratt, for UK Independence Party, and John McVay, for Veritas, are also candidates in the constituency.