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Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 07:02 GMT 08:02 UK
Survey shows extent of crime fears
Criminal and victim generic
People in Wales believe street crime has rocketed in the last five years and they feel less safe despite government promises, a BBC poll has found.

Most people also want to see an increased police presence on their streets, according to the survey commissioned by BBC Wales to mark its Cracking Crime Day.

The research involving 500 survey respondents also found 20% of over-55s were too afraid to go out after dark and that a large majority had little faith in the police's ability to solve burglaries and car thefts.

The findings come just a day after UK Home Secretary David Blunkett told the Police Superintendents' Association of plans to halve police paperwork so constables are freer to fight crime.

But the BBC's poll - conducted by ICM - indicates he will have to boost the 17% of officers' time spent on the beat to reassure many members of the public.

  • 67% want to see more police on the street

  • 28% could not remember when they last saw a beat officer in their area

  • 18% said it had been more than a year ago

Fear after murder

Last year on Anglesey, a village community was stunned by the brutal killing of 90-year-old Mabel Leyshon in her Llanfairpwll home.

Mabel Leyshon
Fear followed the murder of Mabel Leyshon
Although 17-year-old Matthew Hardman was convicted of her murder and is serving a minimum of 12 years in jail, elderly people in the area are still frightened.

Up to 500 personal attack alarms have been distributed throughout Anglesey and the local police in Llanfairpwll practise "high visibility" policing.

Pc Alison Hughes, who patrols the streets in the village, thinks people in the community could take a role in the fight against crime.

"We need the community to try and start regulating itself a little more, and for them to take responsiblity for any problems they do have," she said.

Pensioner and Llanfairpwll resident Ellen Owen spoke of the after-shocks of Mrs Leyshon's murder.

"It has shaken everybody in this place up. Everybody's scared, you know. It will take time for them to get over it," she said.

Survey figures

The survey also found a lack of confidence in solving of "minor" crimes - 82% of respondents lacked faith in the police's handling of burglaries, 83% of car theft and 65% of mugging.

People blamed a lack of resources and paperwork but 19% said officers had a lack of interest.

There is also a perception that street muggings have increased in the last five years.

  • 76% believe children are carrying out the attacks to pay for drugs

  • 32% think relaxation of cannabis laws will cause more crime while 20% expect a reduction

  • 50% think prescribing heroin to users will increase crime; 40% disagree

  • 77% of women blame violence on television

The perception of crime in Wales can be tested against 2001/02 figures published by the Home Office and the British Crime Survey in July.

Whilst Wales posted the second-lowest burglary rate and has some areas which are amongst the UK's safest, violent across England and Wales rose by 8%, fuelling fears.

During a live debate on methods of dealing with crime on the BBC Wales programme Week In, Week Out, viewers were invited to give their verdict on the best prevention methods.

The responses were:

  • Tougher sentences - 22%

  • Restoring the death penalty - 35%

  • More police on the beat - 24%

  • More CCTV - 4%

  • Extra rehabilitation and counselling for offenders - 15%

ICM interviewed a random sample of 500 adults aged 18+ by telephone between 9th and 12th September 2002. Interviews were conducted throughout Wales and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.

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 ON THIS STORY
Crime scene manager Dave Thomas
"We've been able to link a single cigarette butt to three persons."

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See also:

14 Sep 02 | Cracking Crime
17 Sep 02 | Cracking Crime
18 Sep 02 | Cracking Crime
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