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Page last updated at 07:59 GMT, Tuesday, 27 April 2010 08:59 UK

Parties row over crime figures


The shadow home secretary Chris Grayling has said that the United Kingdom is "more violent than 10 years ago".

Speaking on today's programme, Mr Grayling admitted that overall crime has fallen during the past 13 years of Labour governments but added that it was clear that reported violent crime had increased.

He said that the debate over crime was "not just about figures...You just didn't get teenagers in school uniform knifing each other knifing each other to death ten years ago".

And he added that "we have to be really tough on the knife culture... We have to have a zero tolerance approach to people carrying a knife".

Also on the programme the Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne defended the party's policy of replacing sentences of less than six months with community penalties. He argued that the UK's prison population "was out of control" and that sentences were counter-productive.

He said that more than nine out of ten young male offenders serving their first custodial sentence "come out of these 'colleges of crime' that we call our prisons, having picked up tricks we would rather that they hadn't picked up and actually conducting crime at a more sophisticated level".

And he called for more effective community sentences and for government to "provide magistrates and judges with a better menu of options".

And the Home Secretary Alan Johnson backed the government's anti-crime record. He said the Tories "were telling lies" when they sais that violent crime was on the increase.

"The statistics show that violent crime is falling, crime overall is falling," he said. "The police and Community Support Officers are doing a good job."

He said that public perception of anti-social behaviour as a problem was now at its lowest level, adding: "People are getting the message that neighbourhood policing is out there, something they can actually use."

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