In the Media

Crime figures show 16-year fall in offences has halted

PUBLISHED October 20, 2011

Overall crime levels are flat or starting to nudge upwards, British Crime Survey and police figures appear to show The 16-year fall in overall crime in England and Wales seems to have been halted by the impact of cuts and rising unemployment, with an apparent 10% rise in household burglary. Overall crime levels appear to have remained flat or started to nudge up, with the latest British Crime Survey (BCS) showing a 2% rise and police recorded crime figures a 4% fall over the 12 months to this June. The quarterly crime figures, which cover the 12 months to the second quarter between April and June, do not include the summer riots. But they show a 13% rise in "other household theft", which covers thefts from gardens and sheds, the apparent 10% rise in burglary, according to the BCS, and rises in robbery (3%) and the most serious sexual offences (2%) on police figures. The police figures, however, show continuing falls in most other categories of crime, including a 12% drop in criminal damage, 8% falls in violence against the person and car crime, and a 3% fall in domestic burglary. All categories of BCS crime rose except for vandalism, which dropped by 9%. Home Office statisticians were cautious about the figures, saying that, taken together, the two measures ? BCS and police figures ? show crime to have been stable in the 12 months to June with no statistically significant change in the crime rate. The Home Office said the apparently alarming 10% rise in burglary on the BCS was not statistically significant and came alongside a 3% fall in police recorded burglaries. "The latest figures suggest it is still too early to be confident there has been a real change in the medium-term trend for BCS burglary, which has been relatively stable since 2004-05," the crime figures bulletin says. However, the statisticians said there was evidence of an increase in lower-level offences such as pickpocketing, shoplifting and theft of unattended property. Police recorded "other theft" rose by 5% and BCS "other household thefts" are up 13%. The 2% rise in serious sexual offences follows increases in reporting and recording such crime since 2009, but this rate of increase seems to be slowing. Provisional statistics show that gun crime fell by 16% on the police figures. Public confidence in the ability of the police and local councils to deal with antisocial behaviour in their area rose from 52% to 54%. Paul McKeever, the chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "The latest crimes statistics show that burglary and robbery continue to rise and, unfortunately, this comes as no surprise to us. "Of particular concern is the rise in knife-related crime by some 7%. The statistics collated across England and Wales support a trend we were already seeing in London. "We have warned again and again that property crime and robbery will rise during times of economic hardship, and today's figures paint a bleak picture. "The government simply must heed the warnings and reconsider the planned 20% cuts to policing. We can only protect the public if we have enough police officers on our streets. Therefore the prospect of losing 34,000 officers and police staff by 2015 cannot be ignored." Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: "These figures are a worrying sign that crime is now increasing after years of coming down. It shows this is a terrible time to cut 16,000 police officers. "Figures for the last nine months show police recorded crime going up with wider increases, too. "And it is extremely concerning that robbery offences involving a knife or sharp instrument are up 7%, yet there is not a squeak from the Home Office about rethinking the huge cuts to police forces across the country. "Crime fell by over 40% while Labour was in government, ? but people want it to fall further, not go back up again." She said people were "seeing evidence of crime rising under this Tory-led government", adding: "They need to take urgent action to cut crime instead of just cutting police." But the crime and justice minister, Nick Herbert, said: "Today's crime figures show a mixed picture, with differences across offences and police force areas. "The police do a fantastic and difficult job, and we want to support them. We know the police want to be out in their local communities stopping crime, catching criminals and helping victims. "That's why we have swept away central targets and red tape to help police forces focus on their one core mission ? to cut crime. "And it is why we are shifting power from Whitehall to local communities, through elected police and crime commissioners and the publication of local crime data online, to make policing more accountable and responsive to local concerns." Jon Murphy, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said the increase in robberies at knifepoint was partly driven by demand for mobile phones. "While there were falls in most police recorded crime and particularly in violence against the person, the increase in robbery and robbery with knives is a cause for concern," he said. "We believe this is in part driven by demand for mobile phone handsets, which can fetch more than double their worth on the black market abroad. "Worryingly, a large proportion of phone owners still do not have passcodes on their phones, leaving them vulnerable to possible ID theft and fraud. Phone owners are encouraged to set passcodes and look into anti-crime phone functions such as remote wipe technology. "Police forces will want to focus actions to combat these offences and offer crime prevention advice." Crime Police Yvette Cooper Public sector cuts Public finance Emergency services Unemployment Liberal-Conservative coalition Labour Alan Travis © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds