Fears of a crime wave fuelled by the recession proved unfounded today as official figures revealed offending is at its lowest level since 1981.
The British Crime Survey (BCS) revealed that offences fell by 9 per cent from 10.5 million to 9.6 million in 2009/10.
It was the first time the total number of offences dropped below the 10 million mark since records began.
Crimes recorded by police forces across England and Wales fell by 8 per cent from 4.7 million to 4.3 million offences.
Officials said there has been a "notable" drop in acquisitive crimes, including theft, burglary and fraud.
The figures bucked widespread fears that the credit crunch would fuel an increase in these offences.
Officials said there has been no statistically significant change in the levels of violent crime.
Officials said there has been a 2 per cent drop in credit card fraud and a 16 per cent fall in UK fraud losses.
The latest figures were the first to show no increase in the number of victims of plastic fraud, which had been rising steadily.
Overall acquisitive crime fell by 9 per cent from 5,977,000 offences to 5,427,000 offences.
Police recorded 615 murders in 2009/10, a fall of 6 per cent and the lowest number since 1997.
But some categories of violent crime, wounding, violence without injury and mugging, showed minor increases.
There were 7,995 firearm offences, a 3 per cent decrease on the previous year.
Home Office chief statistician David Blunt said there were 6.5 million fewer victims of crime in 2009/10 than in 1995.
He admitted the property crime results, with domestic burglaries down by 9 per cent and vehicle crime down by 17 per cent, were "surprising".
Mr Blunt said improved security measures, including alarms, better door and window locks as well as vehicle immobilisers are responsible.
He said the trend of falling property crime has been reflected in many other developed countries during the same period.
Mr Blunt said: "There is no single definitive explanation and it seems likely that a number of different factors have contributed in different ways."
The figures showed that crime plummeted by 43 per cent during Labour's 13 years in power.
Home Secretary Theresa May welcomed the news of falling crime but warned the figures offer only a "partial picture".
She warned that another shake-up of how offences are recorded and presented is in the pipeline.
Mrs May said: "And there are many offences, including anti-social behaviour, which are not always reported or fully recorded, but which ruin too many lives.
"No society should accept a situation where at least 26,000 people a day fall victim to crime.
"That is why we will reform the police to make them more accountable to their communities and cut bureaucracy to get officers on to the beat and fighting crime.
"What matters to people is the crime that happens in their local communities and what is being done about it.
"This is why we want the public to know what is really going on in their area and will publish monthly crime information about what is happening on their streets by January next year.
"We are determined to restore trust in crime statistics and are currently considering how they should be collected and published in future.
"We are working with the UK Statistics Authority and others to consider this carefully."
Warwickshire Police chief constable Keith Bristow said the figures reflect the continuing efforts of police.
Mr Bristow, a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said: "Our work in this area will continue, with the Association of Chief Police Officers taking the lead in ensuring good practice guidance in this critical area of policing is rolled out nationally.
"It should be noted that in police-recorded statistics all other crime categories show reductions, with BCS data showing the risk of being a victim of crime has also dropped, and the risk of being a repeat victim remains at around the lowest level since 1981.
"These overall results are positive and a strong indication of our commitment to cutting crime.
"Like many sectors, policing will be expected to deliver more for less.
"We recognise the challenge and remain resolutely committed to protecting the public which we serve."Reuse content