Number of crimes fall by nine million

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The Independent Online

The number of crimes fell by 5% from 9.9 million to 9.4 million in the year to last September compared with the previous 12 months.

But levels of violent crime and burglary remained about the same, the British Crime Survey figures showed.

The number of crimes recorded by police also fell 7%, fuelled by a drop in every category apart from sexual offences, which rose 7%.

Chief Constable Keith Bristow, head of crime for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said the crime survey data showed "the risk of being a victim of crime remains at a 30-year low" at 21.4%.

"Nationally, we have been working to improve all areas of sex offence investigation, with a particular emphasis on rape in domestic abuse cases," he said.

"We remain determined to bring to justice people who commit sexual offences and we are making significant progress in this critical area, particularly around giving victims confidence to come forward and report these crimes and we need them to do so."

The number of homicides fell by 4% to 619 in the year to the end of April 2010, the lowest number since 1997/98 when 606 were recorded, other figures showed.

In 2009/10, more than two-thirds of homicide victims (68%) were male.

A total of 34% of homicides involved a sharp instrument, with the number of such offences falling from 255 in 2008/09 to 210 in 2009/10.

But the number of homicides from shootings rose to 41 from 38 the previous year.

Three in four victims aged under 16 knew the main suspect.

Mr Bristow said: "The homicide rate also remains at its lowest level on the homicide index in 12 years.

"These overall results are a strong indication of the efforts of our workforce and others to keep people safe."

The collection and publication of crime statistics will be reviewed in an attempt to "improve public confidence", Home Secretary Theresa May said.

The review will look for "cost effective ways to improve the coverage and coherence of crime statistics", the Home Office said.

"Any reductions in crime are welcome, however levels are still too high and we know these statistics only offer a partial picture about the level of crime," Mrs May said.

"More needs to be done to bring crime down and we need to take bold action to restore public trust in crime statistics.

"That is why I have asked the National Statistician to lead a review and why we are moving the publication of crime statistics out of the Home Office to an independent body.

"Improving public trust and confidence in crime statistics is crucial if we are to improve transparency and empower local communities to hold authorities to account."