Robbery up recorded crime figures show

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Robbery rose by 1% in the third quarter of last year, Home Office recorded crime figures for England and Wales showed today.

But parallel figures from the British Crime Survey - which ministers say is the most reliable indicator of crime trends - showed a 14% surge in theft from the person.

The number of thefts reported by people interviewed for the survey increased to 626,000 in the year to the end of September, up from 552,000 in the previous 12 months.

Vandalism also rose sharply in the survey, up 11% to 2,918,000 incidents.

Total recorded crime fell by 3% but drug offences increased 9%, in a trend previously blamed on a surge in warnings for cannabis possession.

Prime Minister Tony Blair congratulated police on the figures, noting that they showed reductions in what he termed the "most feared crime" - violence causing injury.

In a statement released by 10 Downing Street, Mr Blair said: "I would like to congratulate the police on today's crime figures.

"The most feared crime - violence that causes injury - is down 7%. Sexual offences are down 4% and crimes involving firearms are down 14% compared with last year.

"Tough laws - including a minimum five years for possessing a gun - are bearing fruit. Neighbourhood policing teams are expanding across the UK. In London every community now has its own patrolling team.

"And this has been achieved while still driving down burglary and vehicle crime. The number of burglaries has fallen by 55% since 1997 - that's 651,000 fewer homes being burgled.

"The public are not going to put up with mindless vandalism - and I am pleased that more people are reporting cases of graffiti.

"Of course there is more to do. Every victim is one too many. We need to continue the drive against street crime and the use of firearms."

The Home Office described the BCS figures on theft from the person as an "apparent increase" which was "not statistically significant".

The overall number of crimes reported to the BCS was 11,138,000, up 4% on the previous year, which the Home Office also said was "not statistically significant".

Overall violent crime in the survey rose by 2% to 2,440,000, although within that total incidents involving injuries fell by 9%.

Domestic burglary reported to the survey fell by 4% to 709,000 and also dropped by 3% in recorded crime figures.

The Government's campaign against anti-social behaviour was dealt a blow as results showed that people were becoming more worried about the problem in four out of seven categories used to measure results.

There was a rise in concern about people using or dealing drugs, teenagers hanging around on the streets, noisy neighbours or loud parties and people being drunk or rowdy in public places.

In the 12 months to September last year there was a 14% fall in firearms offences to 9,728.