Crime rates in England and Wales 'worse than US'

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The Independent Online

England and Wales has one of the worst crime rates among developed nations for rapes, burglaries and robberies, a United Nations report found.

The study for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime found England and Wales had more burglaries and robberies per 100,000 people than the United States in 2006.



But offenders were locked up for shorter periods than in comparable countries, the research showed.



In an analysis of the figures by think-tank Civitas, which compared only those countries which were members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), England and Wales was ranked fifth for burglaries, with a rate of 1,157.7 per 100,000 people.



This compared with 714.4 for the US, and was worse than Slovenia (902.9), the Czech Republic (523.3), and Turkey (216.9).



The figures also showed England and Wales had a worse robbery rate (188.7 per 100,000) than the US (146.4), Poland (92.2), Slovenia (31.5) and Turkey (28.5).



For rapes, England and Wales (25.6) was ranked eighth, worse than Norway (18), Germany (9.9) and Poland (5.2).



And for car thefts, England and Wales (360) was seventh - worse than the Czech Republic (205), Greece (139), Mexico (137), Chile (57.9) and Slovenia (42.5).



But England and Wales fared better when it came to "intentional homicides" and major assaults, being ranked 15th and 18th respectively.



The figures are from 2006, the latest year for which comparable statistics are available, and draw together crimes recorded by police in the countries studied.



The study also showed that England and Wales had a low "punitivity ratio" compared with other countries because shorter sentences were being handed down by judges.



The ratio was calculated by contrasting the number of people convicted in a year per 100,000 population with the number of prisoners in jail.



England and Wales had a ratio of just 0.04, compared with 0.06 for France and 0.11 for Germany.



A Home Office spokesman said: "This data is now more than four years old, but highlights that we have a high level of crime compared to other countries. This backs up the perceptions of many communities who have real concerns about stubbornly high levels of serious crimes.



"This Government 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."



A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman added: "Between 1995 and 2009, the prison population in England and Wales grew by 32,500 or 66%. But this rise has not had a comparative effect either on public confidence in the criminal justice system, or on reoffending.



"Nearly half of all offenders sent to prison are reconvicted within a year of release, creating a revolving door of crime.



"The Government will tackle this by conducting a full assessment of sentencing and rehabilitation policy to ensure that it is effective in deterring crime, protecting the public, punishing offenders and cutting reoffending.



She added that the Government was "committed to intelligent sentencing which ensures appropriate punishment, rehabilitation and the protection of the public".



:: The figures also reflected badly on the rest of the United Kingdom and Ireland.



For rapes, Northern Ireland (26.2) ranked seventh, Scotland (18) tenth, and Ireland (10) 18th.



For burglary, Northern Ireland (663.9) ranked 13th, Scotland (597.6) 19th, and Ireland (567.9) 20th.



For robbery, Northern Ireland (90.4) ranked 14th, Scotland (69.9) 17th, and Ireland (55.7) 21st.



And for car theft, Ireland (326) eighth, Scotland (293) ranked 11th, and Northern Ireland (196) 19th.



Scotland ranked ninth for its rate of "intentional homicides" (2.1), compared with Ireland (1.6) in 14th, England and Wales (1.4) in 15th, and Northern Ireland (1.3) in 19th.