When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Crime 'down to record low level'
The overall level of crime showed a "significant decrease" in new official figures - but an additional study found the drop in offences recorded by police might have been overstated.
Overall crime fell by 8%, or around 800,000, to 8.9 million in the year to the end of September, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. This was the lowest level since the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) began in 1981.
But a review of the differences between the CSEW and crimes recorded by police showed that while both report a fall in offences, police records appear to "overstate the true rate in which crime has been falling".
The level of police-recorded crime in the most recent survey showed a 7% decrease to 3.8 million offences in the year ending last September. But additional analysis showed that police-recorded crime has fallen by 41% since 2002/03, compared to a 26% fall in crimes in the CSEW, which gauges experiences of residents of households in England and Wales. And in the last five years the number of recorded crimes fell by 960,000, while the crime survey showed a fall of 560,000 offences. This suggests that some 400,000 crimes were not recorded.
Crime prevention minister Jeremy Browne said: "Crime continues to fall under this Government, down 8% in the year ending September 2012 according to the latest Crime Survey, and is now at the lowest level since the survey began. Police reform is working. We have swept away central targets, reduced bureaucracy and these figures show forces are rising to the challenge of doing more with less. Many have achieved significant reductions in crime with reduced budgets.
"We are improving the relationship between the police and the public through the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners, giving the public a direct say in local policing for the first time, and we have established the College of Policing to enhance police professionalism and set the highest standards of integrity."
Crime fell across all headline offences recorded by police in the year to September, the ONS said. Violence against the person offences recorded by police showed a 5% year-on-year decrease, while homicide and attempted murder fell by 10% and 2% respectively.
Anti-social behaviour incidents continued to fall in the period, with 2.4 million cases recorded by the police. Meanwhile, levels of violent crime estimated by the CSEW showed no statistically significant change in the year ending September 2012 compared with the previous year. There were some increases in sub-categories, with theft from the person - or pickpocketing - rising 6%, which anecdotal evidence suggested was down to the rise in popularity of hand-held gadgets such as iPhones, mp3 players and tablets.
Shadow policing minister David Hanson called for Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to look at the discrepancies in the recorded crimes and CSEW results, saying: "There are warning signs for the police and Home Office, with the increase in theft. And earlier this week the British Retail Consortium's Survey showed an increase of over 15% in the cost of retail crime alongside a drop in the proportion of crime reported by retailers to the police from 48% to 16%.
"This is perhaps why the Office for National Statistics has begun to express concern that apparent reductions in police recorded crime may be exaggerated. The Home Secretary should examine urgently whether, as the ONS suggest, the cuts to police budgets mark a return to fewer crimes being recorded by the police."