Sharp rise recorded in number of drug offences and robberies

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The Independent Online

The number of robberies and drug offences recorded by the police jumped in new crime figures published today, piling further pressure on the beleaguered Home Secretary.

Violent crime rose by 1 per cent in the final three months of last year compared with the same period in 2004, Home Office data showed. The number of robberies leapt by 6 per cent and drug crimes by 21 per cent.

But total recorded crime remained stable overall at 1,377,100 offences in the quarter, showing no change period-on-period.

In all, there were 298,600 violent crimes in the quarter, including a 3 per cent rise in sexual offences.

Violence against the person rose by 1 per cent although the most serious category in this class - such as homicides and serious woundings - fell by 12%.

Domestic burglary fell by 4 per cent and fraud and forgery by 22 per cent.

The Home Secretary Charles Clarke, who is facing mounting pressure to quit over the foreign prisoners scandal, said: "I am encouraged by the fact that violent crime is stabilising, but there is still too much violent crime.

"While it is true that nearly half of all violent offences involve no injury, they may still be serious and traumatic for the victim.

"That is why we are committed to continuing the progress we have made in recent years in driving down violent crime, including robbery.

"This rise in recorded offences of robbery needs to be put in context as the figures are still well below those for 2001/02, before the street crime initiative, when robbery was at its height."

Separate figures from the British Crime Survey showed the risk of being a victim of crime, at 23 per cent, remained at its lowest since the survey began in 1981.

A further set of figures on gun crime showed that although offences fell by 3 per cent to 10,878 in 2005, the number of serious injuries caused by firearms jumped by more than a fifth.

There were 473 serious injuries recorded last year, compared with 390 in 2004 - a rise of 21 per cent.

Slight injuries also rose 10 per cent to 3,421.

Gun killings showed a significant decline of 30 per cent from 73 to 51.

The British Crime Survey showed the Government was not succeeding in its attempt to reduce fear of crime or concerns about anti-social behaviour, despite a series of high-profile campaigns.

The number of people who said they were "very worried" about violent crime rose from 16 per cent in 2004 to 17 per cent in 2005.

The proportion of interviewees very worried about burglary also rose 1 per cent to 13 per cent.

Five out of seven of the Government's measures of concern about anti-social behaviour saw an increase, although two of these were not considered to be statistically significant.

There were significant rises in those who felt noisy neighbours, rowdiness or drunkenness and teenagers hanging around on the streets were a big problem in their area.

Residents reporting problems with drug dealing and vandalism rose slightly.

Those reporting problems with the remaining two categories - abandoned cars and rubbish - fell.