Robberies rise but crime stays stable

Robberies and muggings have risen by five per cent in England and Wales, although the overall level of violent crime remains stable, new figures show.

There were 25,300 robberies reported to the police in the three months to June, compared to 24,200 at the same time last year.

But Home Office minister Tony McNulty put this down to people carrying more items such as MP3 players and expensive mobile phones, which are an easy target for thieves.

And he noted there had been an improvement on the previous quarter, when recorded robberies were up eight per cent on the year. He said this proved government campaigns for people to keep their valuables safe and other initiatives were having an effect.

He stressed there had been “massive reductions” in crime since 1995, with 8.4 million fewer crimes committed than ten years ago, noting that total crime was down two per cent and violent crime was stable. Burglary and other thefts had both fallen in the last year.

In addition, there were 10,267 gun crimes in the same period, a reduction of eight per cent on the year before, and there has been a 21 per cent drop in the number of firearm injuries.

The latest figures from the British Crime Survey, which measures people’s perception of crime, were also published today and show overall crime and violent crime are stable, as is vandalism and all personal crime.

There has been a 16 per cent rise in recorded drug offences, but police have put this down to the increased recording of possession of cannabis offences.

Mr McNulty said: “We are diverting record numbers of drug-misusing offenders out of crime and into treatment every week, taking more drugs off our streets, putting dealers behind bars and making sure young people are informed about the harms drugs cause.”

He added: “We will continue reforming our criminal justice system to bring greater numbers of offenders to justice and deter future offenders while rebalancing the system to serve victims, witnesses and the community better.”

However, shadow home secretary David Davis said the increase in robbery was “shocking” and, blaming Labour policies, said police officers were tied to their desks and kept from doing their jobs by government red-tape.

“The fact robbery has only recently started to rise since Tony Blair’s street crime initiative proves what we have been saying for some time now – that more police on the street can make a difference,” he said.

However, Ian Johnston of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) noted that the risk of being a victim of crime is at 24 per cent – the lowest for 25 years – which proved that targeted policing initiatives were working.

“Importantly, the British Crime Survey shows us that more of the public think the police are doing a good job – 51 per cent against 48 per cent in the comparable period last year,” he said.