Rise in violent offences ruins fall in crime rate

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The Independent Online
CRIME HAS fallen by nearly 8 per cent, but the number of violent offences continues to increase, according to statistics expected today from the Home Office.

The figures, compiled from nearly all the police forces in England and Wales, will show decreases in the number of offences.

The Home Office will reveal that for the first time the bi-annual British Crime Surveyalso shows a decrease in crime. The BCS is based on public interviews and is regarded as a more accurate reflection of the real incidence of crime.

The overall number of offences committed in the 12 months to March was down by 7.8 per cent on the previous year, the Home Office will say, but the figures for recorded violent and sexual offences are expected to be up on the previous 12-month period.

The pattern of a fall in the overall crime figures concealing rises in violent and sexual offences is well established.

The last set of Home Office statistics, published in April and covering the calendar year of 1997, showed an 8.8 per cent decrease in overall crime to a total of just under 4.6m recorded offences. But violent crime rose by 2 per cent, with sex crime up by 7 per cent.

The tendency for such offences to climb will prompt calls for further initiatives to combat violent crime, particularly as the figures come after a US study which suggested that in some respects Britain is becoming more dangerous than America.

That report showed robbery, burglary and assaults were more common per head of population in England and Wales than in the US, although crimes of murder and rape were higher in America.

From October 1999, the Home Office will move to more rigorous methods of calculating the statistics which are likely to see the figures jump by up to 20 per cent.