Finance

Largest rise in violent crime in a decade

Largest rise in violent crime in a decade

Dramatic rises in gun crime and knife crime have been recorded by British police in the year between April 2016 and March 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Crime in England and Wales surged by 10 per cent in 2016/17 - the largest annual rise in offending in a decade.

Despite the rising number of police recorded crimes, there were fewer offences reported by victims in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) which aims to capture incidents which went unrecorded.

There were 723 homicides in the past year - made up of murders, manslaughter and infanticide cases.

The statisticians have also raised the prospect that increases in high level property crimes, such as burglary and vehicle theft, if continued, could soon show up in the crime survey as well raising the prospect that a long-term 20-year decline in crime has come to an end.

But this latest set of official crime police figures show that this is no longer necessarily true.

One respected crime expert, Richard Garside of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, actually welcomed the figure on Thursday showing that police numbers had reached the lowest level since 1985.

Another factor that may have contributed to the increase, experts say, are austerity-induced budget cuts, with the ranks of police officers falling by almost 1,000 in England and Wales, according to figures published by the Home Office.

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John Flatley, head of crime statistics for the ONS, said that while police recording had improved, he believed the figures represented "actual increases" in crime.

A separate national crime survey, also released today, called The Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) found that overall crime had fallen by 7%.

The use of handguns in firearms offences has risen 24%, the ONS said.

Robbery was up 16%, or around 8,000 offences. There were also an estimated 5.1 million additional offences of computer misuse and fraud.

Some 35,000 households are questioned for the CSEW and the response rate is 73%.

The increase comes amid heated rows about police funding and a fall in the number of officers, with opponents accusing Prime Minister Theresa May's government of putting the public at risk by slashing budgets.

"We recognise that crime is changing and we are determined to get ahead of new and emerging threats to the safety and security of our families and communities", said police minister Nick Hurd.

Rachel Almeida, Victim Support's head of policy, said the rising figures are "a great cause for concern, especially given the increase in recorded violent crimes, threatening behaviour and theft".


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