Crime: South-west records a sharp rise in offences

THE RATE of increase of crime in Greater London is lower than any other region in England or Wales, according to Regional Trends. The biggest increase in crime between 1981 and 1991 was in the South-west.

In Greater London there was an increase of 47 per cent in recorded offences; in the South-west this was 104 per cent. The North - partly a reflection of growing youth crime - recorded the highest rate in England and Wales in 1991. East Anglia had the lowest. In Northern Ireland there was an increase of just 1 per cent in crime between 1981 and 1991; and there the number of offences of criminal damage, robbery and burglary fell. But sexual crimes rose sharply - by 162 per cent.

Between 1981 and 1991 there was a large increase in criminal activity. In 1981, six offences per 100 population were being committed; a decade later this had risen to 10. Theft, burglary, vandalism and offences of violence against the person nearly doubled. It is estimated, however, that only a third of crime committed is reported to the police. In all cases, fewer than half the offences recorded were cleared up by the police. The North- west had the highest clear up rate - 39 per cent and Greater London, with 17 per cent, had the lowest.

There has been little increase in the number of young people, aged between 17 and 20, found guilty or cautioned by the police between 1981 and 1991 and the number of young offenders aged between 10 and 16 has fallen. In England in 1981, 1,819 children aged between 10 and 13 per 100,000 head of population were cautioned or found guilty of burglary, robbery or theft. A decade later this figure was 1,056 per 100,000.