West Country fares worst in analysis of car crime: Avon and Somerset overtakes Greater Manchester as area of highest risk

DRIVERS in the Avon and Somerset area were more likely to have their cars stolen or broken into last year than in any other part of England and Wales, according to a car-crime league table published yesterday.

The level of crime in the area actually decreased by 2.8 per cent last year but there were still 43.2 car crimes per 1,000 of the local population. Greater Manchester - which topped the table in 1992 - was close behind (42.9 crimes per 1,000), as were West Yorkshire and Cleveland. The regions with the biggest rise in car crime were South Yorkshire, Humberside and West Mercia.

Avon and Somerset police established a specialist team to combat car crime in December.

Inspector Geoff Roost, head of the team, said: 'Their efforts are already paying off; in the first six months of this year, car crime has been slashed by 15 per cent.' He said the area had the highest level of car ownership in Britain, providing more opportunity for crime. The league table is compiled every year by The Insurance Service, an insurance company, using official police and population statistics. Dyfed-Powys in Wales remained the safest area with only 8.9 autocrimes per 1,000 people.

Greater London's position also improved, registering a 4.5 per cent drop in crime. It was rated the 15th most risky area - but was 12th in 1992 and 10th the year before that.

The total number of crimes was down 1.6 per cent and the average risk factor for the country dropped to 29.7 crimes per 1,000 compared with 30.2 crimes per 1,000 in 1992.

West Yorkshire had the highest incidence of 'joyriding' offences with 757 in 1993, followed by Merseyside and Cleveland.

Cleveland also topped the league for theft of motor vehicles with 23.6 crimes per 1,000.

Gloucestershire was the worst area for thefts from cars with 27.2 crimes per 1,000. Both held the same positions last year, as did the lowest area in both categories, Dyfed-Powys.

But there was good news for drivers as insurers said that premiums were on a slow but gradual downward trend.

A spokeswoman for the Association of British Insurers said this was because of both a reduction in car crime and the fact that fewer claims were being made for accidents, which account for up to 80 per cent of claims.

She said that premiums for drivers in London were still high because 'roads are much busier and so there are more accidents which cancels out the drop in crime'.

Michael Edwards, deputy managing director of The Insurance Service, said: 'These new figures show that many people are taking crime more seriously. But the overall level is still high.

'A lot of crime prevention is down to common sense.'

----------------------------------------------------------------- THE INSURANCE SERVICE REGIONAL AUTOCRIME LEAGUE TABLE - ENGLAND & WALES TOTAL AUTOCRIME - 1993 ----------------------------------------------------------------- Ranking Region Autocrime Number of Crimes Incr- (per 1,000 people) ease 1993 1992 Change 1993 1992 1993 1992 % ----------------------------------------------------------------- 01 (06) +5 Avon & Somerset 43.2 (40.2) 62,238 (64,115) -2.8 02 (01) -1 Greater Manchester 42.9 (45.6) 110,357 (118,097) -6.6 03 (04) +1 West Yorkshire 41.6 (43.3) 87,091 (89,537) -2.7 04 (02) -2 Cleveland 40.1 (44.5) 22,435 (24,561) -8.7 05 (05) - South Wales 38.6 (40.8) 51,189 (53,488) -4.2 06 (11) +5 Humberside 38.1 (33.5) 33,606 (28,792) 16.7 07 (10) +3 Bedfordshire 37.8 (35.6) 20,281 (19,078) 6.3 08 (03) -5 Nottinghamshire 37.3 (44.0) 38,219 (44,695) -14.5 09 (07) -2 Northumbria 36.8 (29.9) 53,130 (57,082) -6.9 10 (15) +5 South Yorkshire 36.4 (31.2) 47,487 (40,522) 17.2 11 (08) -3 West Midlands 36.1 (36.7) 94,925 (95,881) -0.9 12 (09) -3 Gloucestershire 35.9 (36.2) 19,445 (19,211) 1.2 13 (14) +1 Thames Valley 33.3 (32.7) 66,380 (64,920) 2.2 14 (13) -1 Leicestershire 32.3 (32.8) 29,189 (29,458) -0.9 15 (12) -3 Greater London 31.3 (33.4) 231,469 (242,556) -4.5 16 (16) - Durham 30.8 (30.6) 18,720 (18,348) 2.0 17 (17) - Kent 29.8 (28.8) 45,938 (43,905) 4.6 18 (21) +3 Northamptonshire 29.5 (26.9) 17,442 (15,623) 11.6 19 (18) -1 Warwickshire 28.6 (28.7) 14,071 (13,842) 1.6 20 (19) +1 Derbyshire 27.5 (28.0) 26,068 (26,122) -0.2 21 (22) +1 Cambridgeshire 27.2 (25.9) 18,420 (17,200) 7.0 22 (20) -2 Staffordshire 26.3 (27.1) 27,611 (28,217) -2.1 23 (23) - Lancashire 26.1 (25.8) 36,909 (35,964) 2.6 24 (24) - Merseyside 23.2 (25.2) 33,558 (36,453) -7.9 25 (29) +4 Cheshire 23.2 (22.8) 22,443 (21,885) 2.5 26 (28) +2 Gwent 23.1 (22.9) 10,420 (10,270) 1.4 27 (27) - Cumbria 22.9 (23.3) 11,236 (11,452) -1.9 28 (25) -3 Norfolk 22.7 (23.9) 17,295 (17,948) -3.6 29 (26) -3 Hampshire 22.4 (23.8) 38,357 (39,830) -3.7 30 (31) +1 Hertfordshire 21.8 (22.0) 18,511 (18,514) 31 (35) +4 West Mercia 21.2 (19.6) 23,389 (21,142) 10.6 32 (34) +2 Devon & Cornwall 21.0 (19.8) 31,957 (29,727) 7.5 33 (32) -1 Essex 20.5 (21.9) 30,496 (32,025) 4.8 34 (30) -4 Sussex 19.8 (22.6) 28,367 (31,987) -11.3 35 (37) +2 North Yorkshire 19.8 (18.5) 14,301 (13,403) 6.7 36 (36) - Dorset 18.9 (18.6) 12,608 (12,377) 2.7 37 (33) -4 Surrey 18.9 (21.2) 14,583 (15,847) -7.9 38 (38) - North Wales 17.8 (18.1) 11,642 (11,838) -1.6 39 (39) - Lincolnshire 17.2 (17.0) 10,270 (10,042) 2.2 40 (40) - Wiltshire 16.6 (16.5) 9,627 (9,297) 3.5 41 (41) - Suffolk 13.1 (14.2) 8,523 (9,158) -6.9 42 (42) - Dyfed Powys 8.9 (10.4) 4,214 (4,887) -13.7 Total 29.7 (30.2) 1,524,417 (1,549,196) -1.6 -----------------------------------------------------------------

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