Boost for Labour as Home Office figures reveal falling crime rate

The final set of crime statistics to be released before the election showed that crime in Britain continued to fall.

Yesterday's figures from the Home Office revealed that the number of offences recorded in England and Wales fell by 339,473 in 2009 compared with 2008 – a drop of 7 per cent.

The number of crimes last year was 4,448,273 – the lowest since Labour came to power in 1997 and a definite boost for the Government as the parties prepare to go to the polls.

Violent crime, burglary and robbery all fell last year. Only sexual offences showed an increase, rising by 2 per cent to 53,239. The level of gun and knife crime also fell, including a 21 per cent drop in fatal stabbings.

The figures were accompanied by a British Crime Survey (BCS) report, compiled using 46,000 interviews, which also showed a 7 per cent fall in crime. The survey found the risk of becoming a victim of crime is at a 30-year low. But, despite a 3 per cent decrease in recorded violent crime, the survey revealed a 4 per cent increase in serious violent crime.

The BCS survey showed that 1,120,000 violent crimes were committed in 2009 in which the victim was injured; the corresponding figure for 2008 was 1,081,000. The figures mean that, on average, a violent assault happens once every 30 seconds.

Yesterday police chiefs welcomed the overall findings of the surveys. Chief Constable Keith Bristow, who has national responsibility for managing crime, said: "The latest recorded crime statistics and British Crime Survey results show police and community safety partners are making communities safer. These [results] are a strong indication of the dedication of our workforce to keep the public safe."

Overall, thefts fell by 4 per cent, but bicycle theft rose by 8 per cent to 112,169, meaning that on average 307 bicycles are stolen every day.

Labour seized on the figures as proof that it has kept its promise to be tough on crime. Responding to rival parties' claims that crime is on the rise, Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, said: "If we are going to have an honest debate on crime then we need Chris Grayling to finally accept what repeated surveys all confirm: that crime has fallen and is still falling."

Mr Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, welcomed the figures but said they were not proof that Labour had improved the safety of the public.

"We still live in a more dangerous country than when Labour came to power," he said. "The Government has presided over a surge in violence, while Labour's target culture means the police spend more time on paperwork than on the beat. Knife crime remains a serious concern on our streets and Conservatives will make tackling it a priority. Too many families have their lives ruined by low-level crime and antisocial behaviour. This has got to change."

His Liberal Democrat counterpart, Chris Huhne, said: "The fall in crime is encouraging but we must continue to be vigilant... Fear of crime is still far too high and only half of people think that the police are dealing with the crime and antisocial behaviour that matters to them.

"Labour and the Tories are not going to restore public confidence by refusing to protect police numbers. The Liberal Democrats are the only party committed to putting 3,000 more police on the beat."

Burglars steal tory MP's car

A CAR and a laptop computer were stolen from the home of the shadow Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, yesterday. The burglary happened at his home in Tower Bridge, central London. The Tory MP reported the crime at 7.20am. He is thought to have slept through it. He later told reporters it was "not a nice feeling". The Scotland Yard Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, said he was sorry the politician had suffered such a "heinous offence".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food