21/04/2005

Figures reports rise in violent crime

Violent crime is on the rise, police figures have revealed, increasing by 9% in the last three months of 2004.

However, overall crime fell compared with the same period last year, with the total number of crimes recorded by police in England and Wales in the last quarter falling by 5% to 1,381,400.

The figures also showed that robbery dropped by 6%; domestic burglary fell by 17%; and vehicle thefts decreased by 16%.

However, the number of violent crimes recorded by the police in the last quarter as 295,400 and reported an increase of 10% in cases of violence against the person, rising to 258,200 in the last quarter, compared with 234,000 during the same period last year.

Firearms offences also rose by 10% and there was a massive increase (66%) in the number of cases involving imitation firearms.

There was also an 18% rise in reports of sexual offences, although this could be attributed to the introduction of the new Sexual Offences Act and government and police attempts to improve the handling of these offences in order to encourage victims to come forward.

However, the British Crime Survey, which surveys thousands of people about their experiences of crime, indicated that overall crime had dropped by 11%, while violent crime had dropped by 10%.

The figures have been announced as Labour announced plans to reduce crime by 15% by 2008 and pledged to introduce a flagship Violent Crime Reduction Bill if they win the next election.

Shadow Home Secretary David Willis said that the rise in violent crime was a “direct outcome of the politics of neglect applied to the causes of crime.” He said: The Government's complacency on crime is breathtaking. Charles Clarke said that violent crime is falling, yet recorded statistics - the ones that Labour used in opposition and in their own manifesto - show that violent crime has risen by another 9% in the last quarter.

"Under Labour there are a million violent crimes a year, gun crime has doubled and police clear up rates are at their lowest rates for at least 25 years. Yet after eight years and just weeks before an election, their response is to re-announce yet another headline grabbing target which - if actually achieved - would only just get crime levels back down to what they inherited."

The Conservatives have pledged to recruit an extra 5,000 police a year, reduce “red tape and bureaucracy” and build an extra 20,000 prison places. They have also promised to crack down on ‘yob culture’ with a series of measures including a five-point plan aimed at tackling binge drinking.

The Liberal Democrats have also pledged to recruit 10,000 more police officers and 20,000 community support officers.

Speaking at a Labour party press conference, Prime Minister Tony Blair said that crime had fallen by 30% since 1997, but admitted that “it was never going to be an overnight job”.

Commenting on the figures, Mr Blair said: “When Michael Howard was Home Secretary, police recorded crime did not count many scuffles and minor assaults which should have been classed as violent crime. The Association of Chief Police Officers wanted to change that and we agreed. It was the right thing to do. Every crime should be counted, even if it gives the wrong impression that violent crime has gone up.”

(KMcA/GB)




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