In the Media

Senior lawyer outlines '12 crimes of Christmas'

PUBLISHED December 1, 2011

Crown Prosecution lawyer warns against spikes in burglary and domestic violence and assures public of their right to defend their homes

A senior Crown Prosecution lawyer has warned the public of the dangers of what he called the "12 crimes of Christmas" - serious misdeeds which tend to increase during the festive season.

In a speech on Thursday, Nazir Afzal, chief prosecutor of the north-west of England, said that during the Christmas break his office saw an increase in domestic abuse, alcohol fuelled public disorder, burglary and sexual assault.

Afzal said there were also a spikes in:

? harassment and stalking, due to people trying to rekindle old relationships

? drink driving

? shoplifting

? street robbery

? drink fuelled assaults

? car theft

? making off without paying for services such as restaurant and bar tabs

? fraud, in its many offline and online forms.

He said other crimes also increased during the holidays, but that these crimes had the "greatest impact on the greatest number".

Afzal, who has chosen not to prosecute in recent cases where people used lethal violence to defend their homes against theft, said there was an increase in burglaries as criminals made off with easily available pickings under Christmas trees, and assured residents that they were "entitled to use reasonable force to defend yourself, your family and your property."

Speaking at CPS offices in Manchester, Afzal also said there was a "notable spike [in domestic abuse] at this time of year where people are often in close proximity for longer periods that they would be at other times of the year," with alcohol adding to the problem.

He said that 100,000 women in the north-west suffered from abuse each year which on average ended in murder in a dozen cases, some of the highest rates in the country.

Afzal also revealed that since the ban on smoking in pubs there had been an increase in domestic violence and a decrease in violence outside pubs.

"Policing the home has now become a natural role of our police forces," he said.

Talking to an audience of 50 local politicians, senior police officers and those from the charity sector, Afzal said there was a spike in sexual offences at this time of year and that drink was used as "an excuse for criminal behaviour". He outlined one case in which a man posing as a minicab driver "deliberately targeted the incapable". He also said that there was an increase in drink fuelled public order incidents where groups congregated in the streets. "I learnt recently that five times as many baseball bats are bought in the UK as there are people who actually play baseball ... Violence breeds violence," he said.

Child abuse was also one of the crimes on the list and represented one of the saddest examples because of the nature of festivities, saying that some children were "trapped in homes for lengthy periods of time in the company of those whom they fear the most".

"I love this time of year, my children love this time of the year, but I want to see more people living without fear," he said. © 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