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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 July, 2003, 07:07 GMT 08:07 UK
Wales 'safer' than England
Two Welsh forces are the best at solving reported crimes
Wales is a safer place to live than England, according to new crime figures released by the Home Office.

The statistics suggest people in Wales are less likely to be a victim of violent crime or burglary than people across England and Wales as a whole.

Victims of crime in Wales also have a better chance of seeing the criminal caught.

Around the UK, the two police forces with the best clear-up rates are both in Wales - Dyfed-Powys and Gwent.

The British Crime Survey showed that overall crime rates in 2002-3 fell by 2% across both Wales and England.

But apparent sharp rises in the number of violent crimes - such as an increase year on year of 62% in the Gwent force area - are being put down to a change in the way the figures are compiled.

Forces have recorded sharp increases in violent crime

Wales' level of total recorded crime per 1,000 of the population was 102 crimes compared to a national average of 113.

The Dyfed-Powys force recorded around half of the Welsh total.

In Wales, burglaries occurred in 258 of 10,000 households compared to an England and Wales average of 439.

Violent crime affected 425 per 10,000 adults in Wales, compared to the England and Wales average of 665.

And incidents of vehicle crime were 845 per 10,000 households, compared to 1,068.

Two Welsh forces top the table when it comes to solving reported crimes.

Dyfed-Powys Police has the best detection rate of 68%, while the Gwent force follows with 48%.

Outside Wales, the most successful forces were Suffolk and Durham at 34%.

Yobbish behaviour

The way in which the figures have been compiled changed in 2002, and all forces across England and Wales now use the same methods - the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS).

Under the NCRS, low-level thuggery and yobbish behaviour - which involve no serious physical injury to the victim - are now recorded as violent crimes.

This has led to some forces displaying sharp increases in the number of violent crimes, such as a rise of 62% recorded by Gwent police.

David Aherne, the Crime Reduction Director for Wales, said it was reassuring that Wales remained "a low crime area".

He added: "Although crime has fallen by 25% since 1997, there is still too much.

"There is a change in recording practices this year.

"From April 2002, we are recording what victims tell police, so it is more victim-focused."

Peter Muxworthy, chairman of the Swansea magistrates' bench, said: "The way they are recording figures now, it is difficult to compare figures year on year.

"But it's encouraging that we are doing better than England.

"I think (the figures) are to do with the way crime is recorded - I don't see that in Swansea there is any great increase."

And Gary Reed, chairman of Cardiff Neighbourhood Watch, added: "I believe crime in general is down and fear of crime is slightly reduced.

"I know the police have addressed violent crime in Cardiff."

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