Homicides drop to near 30-year low

 

The number of murders and other killings recorded by police fell to its lowest level in almost 30 years last year, figures showed today.

A total of 550 murders and cases of manslaughter and infanticide were recorded in 2011/12 - the lowest since 1983, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Overall, the total number of recorded crimes fell to below four million for the first time since 1989, dropping to 3,976,312.

But pickpocketing offences rose by almost a fifth (17%) over the last two years, separate figures from the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) showed.

There were some 625,000 such offences last year, compared with 523,000 in 2009/10, according to the survey of more than 40,000 households.

Thefts from gardens and sheds, including tools, equipment and furniture, also rose 10% to 1,371,000 from 1,245,000 in 2010/11.

Around half of these were opportunistic thefts of garden furniture taken from outside a property, the ONS said.

And thefts of metal, wallets, mobile phones and unattended bags drove a 2% rise in so-called "other theft" offences, following a 4% rise the previous year.

Some 1,105,117 such crimes were recorded by police last year, up from 1,078,679 the previous year.

John Flatley, the head of crime statistics at the ONS, said the number of homicides rose from around 300 per year in the 1960s to just under 1,000 a decade ago, before dropping since 2007/8 to 550 last year, the same as in 1983.

Killings were down 14% from 638 in 2010/11.

But Mr Flatley said he doubted claims that advances in medical science were responsible for the fall.

He said: "If you look at the trends in both murder and attempted murder, you'll see they're pretty similar, so I'm a bit sceptical about the medical science argument, because you would have expected attempted murders to go up as murders came down. We haven't seen that.

"What we do know is over two-thirds of homicides are committed by partners, ex-partners or other family members and that is what's driving the overall change.

"I haven't got an explanation as to what's causing that."

Final figures, including a breakdown of the numbers of murders, manslaughters and infanticides, will not be available until January.

Overall, the number of crimes recorded by police fell by 4% and the CSEW showed crime figures remained stable at about 9.5 million.

The drop in crime was driven by the falls in volume crimes such as vehicle crime and burglaries, Mr Flatley said.

Burglaries were down 4% last year to 501,053 offences while vehicle thefts were down 7% to 417,444, the police figures showed.

"I don't think there's any dispute that security has played a major role in that, both in terms of domestic security - window locks, door locks, alarms, etc - and certainly in relation to vehicles, with immobilisers, deadlocks, etc," he said.

The proportion of households with window locks rose from 80% in 2002/3 to 88% in 2010/11, while those with deadlocks rose from 76% to 84% over the same period, CSEW figures showed.

Car radios and CD players were now harder to steal and worth less, he said.

But there was a 2% increase in so-called "other theft offences", including opportunistic thefts of metal, mobile phones and bags left unattended in pubs and bars, he added.

Robberies recorded by police rose 8% in the Metropolitan force area, but this was masked by falls of 20% and 14% in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester respectively, leading to an overall reduction of 2%, the ONS said.

The 8% increase in the Met area came on top of a 7% increase in robberies between 2009/10 and 2010/11.

Referring to the CSEW figures, Mr Flatley went on: "While 20 in 100 households with vehicles were subject to vehicle-related theft in 1995 this has now fallen to five in 100 households," Mr Flatley said.

Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said: "Although we welcome the fall in overall crime, the 9.5 million crimes recorded in the Crime Survey for England and Wales is still too high.

"The rise in pickpocketing, thefts of wallets and unattended bags is also worrying and can be the cause of upset for many victims.

"So we cannot afford to be complacent in the fight against crime."

Policing Minister Nick Herbert said: "Today's figures show that despite the challenge of reducing police budgets, crime has continued to fall.

"They give the lie to the spurious claim that there is a simple link between overall police numbers and the crime rate.

"There are some areas of local concern, and the election of Police and Crime Commissioners in November will enable local people to hold their force to account and ensure that problem crimes in their area are tackled head-on.

"Police forces should be congratulated for continuing to drive down crime and maintaining their service to the public while saving money.

"We are freeing the police from red tape and central targets so that they can focus resources where they are needed most."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea