Smartphone pickpockets blot 30-year low in official crime statistics


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The Independent Online

Recorded crime fell last year to its lowest level since the 1980s despite a surge in pick-pocketing, official statistics revealed today.

Numbers of offences reported to police in England and Wales dropped by eight per cent between 2011 and 2012, with falls in almost every category of crime.

The only blemish was an eight per cent rise in instances of "theft from the person" fuelled by thieves targeting smartphones, including bike riders snatching the devices from users' hands.

Police recorded 3.7m crimes last year, half of a peak in crime levels in 1995, the Office for National Statistics reported.

A similar trend was uncovered by the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which is based on interviews with the public. It estimated that 8.9 million crimes were committed in England and Wales in 2012, a decrease of five per cent.

The Crime Prevention Minister, Jeremy Browne, said: "It is particularly encouraging that this downward trend is replicated across every police force in England and Wales.  They have shown an impressive ability to accommodate necessary budget reductions whilst still cutting crime."

The ONS said the figures include the 214 sexual offences related to the high-profile Operation Yewtree associated with disgraced presenter Jimmy Savile. Despite this, there was a three per cent overall fall in recorded sexual offences.

There were 107, 471 offences of theft from the person recorded in the year to December 2012, compared to 99,396 in the previous year. The ONS said the rate of increase had sped up since 2008/2009. This increase occurred almost entirely in London.