Most violent crime is at home

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The Independent Online
A HOME OFFICE minister has admitted that previous government policy on violent crime was drawn up in ignorance of the full facts as a report was published yesterday exploding the myth of the high risk of being attacked by strangers.

Lord Williams of Mostyn spoke at the release of a report, which showed that the majority of violent attacks are carried out by relatives, friends or acquaintances of the victim. It was used to launch the biggest study so far of the causes of violence in Britain.

Lord Williams admitted that politicians had often acted in ignorance of the facts on violence. "I think politicians generally, governments of whatever political complexion, have spent too much time producing solutions before they have researched the problem.

"The more you think about it the more you realise we have been living in a fool's paradise, wilfully pulling the duvet above our head."

Endorsing the research programme, which will take five years and cost pounds 3.5m, Lord Williams added: "The most dangerous politician is the politician who does not know what he does not know."

The 44-page report, Taking Stock: What do we know about violence?, was compiled by Professor Betsy Stanko, criminologist at Brunel University and director of the violence research programme, which is publicly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Professor Stanko said: "For hundreds of years, leading politicians, campaigners and judges have made completely unsubstantiated pronouncements about the links between violence, alcohol and the barbarity of certain groups of people. Such unproven associations continue to be made today."

She said that while politicians and the media were "bullish" about the risks of people being victims of random attacks, they were more likely to be attacked in the home, the workplace, or their school. Professor Stanko said: "Stranger violence is, and always has been, the rarest form of violence, whereas assault and homicide by known others - typically acquaintances, spouses, parents and employers or co-workers - dominate."

According to official statistics included in the report, 74 per cent of child victims of violence know their attackers.

The professor said: "Even when violence occurs outside the home, the children are still more likely to know or recognise the people that do harm to them."

She said that 70 per cent of rape victims in England and Wales knew their attackers.