American murder rate lowest for 33 years

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The Independent US

Serious crime in the United States has fallen for the eighth year running, and the murder rate is now at its lowest for 33 years, according to statistics published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation yesterday.

Serious crime in the United States has fallen for the eighth year running, and the murder rate is now at its lowest for 33 years, according to statistics published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation yesterday.

The figures were likely to feed straight into the presidential election campaign, since the decline in crime coincides almost exactly with President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore's tenure in office - a sweet Democratic victory on an issue that has been considered the preserve Republicans.

Mr Clinton yesterday sought to claim credit, saying his administration had given local communities "better tools" to fight crime including 100,000 more police on the beat and stronger gun control measures.

Republicans are likely to counter that they played a role too, releasing federal funds to build more prisons and encouraging longer sentences.

Analysts see plenty of non-party political reasons for the decline: economic good times; the waning of the crack cocaine epidemic; and a shift in demographics that has reduced the number of 15-25 year olds.

The report showed serious crime down 7 per cent between 1998 and 1999. There were 525 murders, rapes, robberies and assaults per 100,000 citizens in 1999, the lowest rate since 1978. The murder rate was 5.7 per 100,000, the lowest since 1966.

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