Crime figures rise sharply amid fears gang members becoming more ruthless in attempt to secure territory

Increase in the number of murders is due to surge in London and the South-east

Nigel Morris
Deputy Political Editor
Thursday 21 January 2016 22:57 GMT
Violent crime levels have risen dramatically according to police
Violent crime levels have risen dramatically according to police

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Levels of violent crime, including murder, rape, gun and knife offences, recorded by police have risen sharply amid fears that gang members are more becoming ruthless in their attempts to keep control of their territory.

The number of people murdered in England and Wales increased by 14 per cent in the year to September and instances of attempted murder went up by 19 per cent, while knife crime rose by nine per cent and firearms offences by four per cent.

The overall numbers of violent offences surged by 27 per cent, although much of the increase was attributed to improved recording techniques by the police.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the increase in numbers of murders from 503 to 574 – reversing the previous downwards trend – was caused by a surge in killings in London and the South East. The total included 75 people who were murdered in June.

The ONS said it was too early to conclude that homicide levels were starting to creep up again, but the figures reinforced fears over levels of gang activity in London and major cities. Almost one-quarter of the rise in knife crime offences was recorded in the capital, although increases were also recorded in 33 of the other 42 police force areas.

Andy Simon, a former detective who leads an organisation which mediates between gangs in London, said: “The youngsters are more likely to carry knives and to resort more quickly to violence.”

Numbers of rapes and other sex crimes reported to police rose by 36 per cent to 99,609, the highest figure since current records began. The ONS said it believed the increase was linked to improved recording techniques and the greater willingness of victims to contact the police.

The 43 police forces in England and Wales reported an overall annual rise in crime of six per cent to 4.3m offences. It was the biggest year-on-year jump since 2001-2002, although statisticians linked it to improved recording of offences.

By contrast, the separate Crime Survey for England and Wales, which is based on interviews with the public, estimated that crime had dropped by six per cent over the year to 6.6m offences.

The Policing Minister, Mike Penning, said people, communities and property were safer because of a fall of more than one quarter in crime levels since 2010.

He said: “The Government has made reducing violence, including knife crime, a priority and continues to work closely with the police and other organisations to tackle the drivers of these crimes.”

But Jack Dromey, the shadow Policing minister, said: “The Tories have slashed police officers by 17,000 and broke their promise to the public to protect frontline officer numbers. Now we see the biggest increase in recorded crime in a decade.”

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "Now is not the time to be taking the foot off the policing pedal. These figures show an alarming rise in recorded crime, which is what we have been saying all along.”

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