Violent offences still increasing despite overall fall in crime rate

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Violent crime is continuing to rise despite police and government initiatives against alcohol-fuelled aggression, Home Office figures show.

A 6 per cent increase in the number of violent offences recorded by police overshadowed yet another drop in the total number of offences in England and Wales. There was also a 5 per cent rise in the number of firearms offences, largely involving replica guns, rising to 11,160 in the year up to June 2005, although the number of deaths was down 10 to 60 compared with the previous year.

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, yesterday that more had to be done to reduce the levels of violence and fear of attack.

Overall recorded crime fell by 2 per cent from April to June 2005 compared with the similar period last year, the quarterly figures showed.

The overall number of violent offences between April and June, compared to the same period last year, increased from 301,100 to 318,200, police recorded. Only a quarter of the violent crimes are thought to be reported to the police.

But even the separate British Crime Survey, in which 40,000 householders are questioned and which was also published yesterday, found a 3 per cent rise in the number of violent assaults - to 1,318,000 - that resulted in some injury. Only a tiny proportion needed hospital treatment. The overall figure for violence was a 7 per cent drop to 2,400,000. The BCS also said that violent crime remained "stable".

According to the BCS figures, overall crime in England and Wales fell by 5 per cent in the 12 months to June 2005.

The fear of crime is rising, with more people concerned with being assaulted, and, despite a continued decline in burglaries, a rise in the number of householders worried about their homes being broken into.

The success story in reducing the number of burglaries and crime continues. There was a 17 per cent drop in domestic burglaries to 747,000 in the year up to June 2005 compared with the previous year, showed the British Crime Survey, and vehicle offences were down 10 per cent to 1,823,000 in the same period.

On the bad news side, the recorded crime figures also showed an increase in robbery of 4 per cent and a 25 per cent increase in drug offences, from 32,900 to 41,100.

Mr Clarke said the statistics showed that overall crime was "continuing to fall" and that the chance of being a victim of crime was the lowest in almost a quarter of a century. But he accepted that the figures for violent crime were still "too high".

A new recording system, which was introduced to all police forces in England and Wales in 2002, is thought to be behind increases in some of the figures. The new system has picked up more low-level thuggery and yobbish behaviour thatdoes not result in serious physical injury to the victim.

Edward Garnier, the Conservative home affairs spokesman, said that under Labour, violent crime was continuing to "spiral out of control".

He added: "With violent crime continuing to soar, it beggars belief that the Government's only response is to unleash 24-hour drinking on our town and city centres, something which judges have already warned will lead to a further increase in violent and sexual crime."