Leap in violent crime and gun offences

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Violent crime recorded by the police in England and Wales rose 6 per cent in the third quarter of last year, new government figures revealed today.

Violent crime recorded by the police in England and Wales rose 6 per cent in the third quarter of last year, new government figures revealed today.

The Home Secretary Charles Clarke also published separate data showing a 5 per cent increase in the number of firearms offences in the year to September, reaching 10,670 incidents, or 500 more than in the previous 12 months.

The total number of crimes recorded by police from July to September last year fell 6 per cent period on period to 1,395,900.

It included a 7 per cent increase in violence against the person to 268,100 offences in the three months, compared with 250,200 in the same period in 2003.

The total number of violent crimes was 306,200 compared with 289,800.

However, the separate British Crime Survey, which is based on interviews with 40,000 adults, showed 9 per cent fewer violent crimes.

Further figures on murders in England and Wales in 2003–2004 showed the first annual fall since 1996.

There were 858 deaths initially recorded as homicide, a fall of 18 per cent on 2002–2003, or a fall of 2 per cent when the cases of killer doctor Harold Shipman were excluded from the previous figures.

Recorded sexual offences rose 22 per cent in the quarter from 13,900 in July to September 2003 to 17,000, but officials said this was due to changes in the way offences were counted following major reform of sex offence laws.

Recorded crime data showed the number of domestic burglaries fell by 23 per cent and vehicle thefts by 17 per cent in the quarter.

Ministers said the figures showed that the risk of being a victim of crime was at its lowest for more than 20 years.

They also pointed out that under the BCS study violent crime had fallen 36 per cent since its peak in 1995.

Home Office minister Hazel Blears said: "It is very encouraging to see that crime is continuing to fall.

"Compared to the peak of crime in the mid nineties there are now each year 1.4 million fewer victims of car crime, half a million fewer victims of violent crime and 600,000 fewer households burgled.

"Improvements in the way police record crimes are continuing to have an effect on the perceived rise in violent crime, although increasing compliance means that this rise is slowing.

"There is still a great deal to do to tackle the types of crimes that are still rising.

"The blitz on alcohol–fuelled violence over the summer has demonstrated that getting people off the streets quickly after closing time and managing queues for taxis and fast food can stop the escalation of violence and disorder that is caused by binge drinking."

The statistics on gun crime showed a 48 per cent increase in the use of imitation firearms.

Serious injuries from gun crime fell five per cent and the use of handguns fell 15 per cent, use of shotguns fell four per cent and the use of rifles remained stable.

However there was also a 41 per cent increase in the use of weapons categorised as "other firearms".