Killings at 30-year low but fears of recession crimewave remain

We're safer than ever – just don't let your wallet out of sight

The number of killings in Britain has dropped to its lowest level in almost 30 years, it was revealed yesterday, with crime in general on a continued down trend.

Opportunistic theft, however, saw a rise of two per cent with stealing from gardens, pilfering metal, pickpocketing and taking unattended handbags and mobile phones the main causes.

Despite predictions that the economic downturn would see the same rise in crime as during the Eighties recession, this had proved not to be the case, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday as it published its annual Crime Survey for England Wales.

John Flatley of ONS said: "There hasn't been an up-turn in acquisition crime (theft) as you might have expected, and was seen in the 1980s recession, but we have seen a rise in thefts of unattended property and that includes metal."

Overall crime has continued to fall and was at its lowest for almost a quarter of a century. In total the survey recorded 10.5 million crimes though many were minor, unreported offences such as vandalism, with annual police recorded figures of 4 million – a drop of 4 per cent on the previous year.

Homicides, including murder, manslaughter and infanticide, fell a further 14 per cent to 550 a year, half of the number of killings in 2003 and similar to the rate in 1983. Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said the fall in murders had more to do with the fact we were simply returning to the situation in the early Eighties before there was a swift rise in killings during the last recession. He added there was a danger this could happen again.

"Living in an area where you are fighting over decreasing resources creates social conflict and, among other things, can lead to more homicides," Professor Garside said.

Worryingly one million children a year fall victim to crime, half of which is violent. The ONS survey of children between 10 and 15 found that 15 per cent of them had been a victim of crime over the past year.

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."

Ben Priestley, UNISON national officer for police and justice, said: "The progress being made in cutting crime rates is a credit to the hard work, skill and dedication of police officers and staff. However, the Government's plans to drastically cut police numbers... threatens to reverse that trend."

There was a swift rise in killings during the last recession and this could happen again

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

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003