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Crime figures fall to record low
Crime against households and adults in England and Wales fell 7% to a record low in the year to June, official figures have revealed.
There were about 8.5 million incidents of crime against households and adults, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), compared with 9.1 million in the year to June 2012.
Sexual offences rose 9%, which the Office for National Statistics (ONS) put partly down to a "Yewtree effect", as greater numbers have come forward to report historical sexual offences to the police.
Yewtree is a national police investigation launched in the wake of claims against disgraced television presenter Jimmy Savile.
The headline crime figure is the lowest since the survey began in 1981 , and is now less than half its peak level in 1995.
The police recorded 3.7 million offences in the year to June, a decrease of 5% compared with the previous year.
There were 230,335 fraud offences recorded in the same period - a 21% increase compared to the previous year.
The ONS said the figures should be viewed in the context of a move towards the centralised recording of fraud by police.
There were also increases in theft from the person, which was up 8%, and shoplifting, up 1%.
Crime prevention minister Norman Baker said: " Police reform is working and crime is falling.
"Recorded crime has dropped yet again, by more than 10% under the coalition Government, and the crime survey says that crime has more than halved since its peak in 1995.
"This is really positive news. Forces are rising to the challenge of making savings whilst cutting crime and delivering a better service to the public.
"England and Wales are safer than they have been for decades but we will continue to deliver measures which keep pace with the changing nature of crime and improve our ability to combat emerging issues."
Max Chambers, head of Crime and Justice, at the think-tank Policy Exchange, said: " Whether you believe it's as the result of an ageing population, better policing and prevention, or the impact of the internet, there is little doubt that Britain is becoming a safer place to live, do business and raise a family.
"But crime is still too high and there are pockets of the country which remain blighted by anti-social behaviour and gang activity.
"While the latest figures show that the police have been able to cut crime substantially even with fewer resources, they must now redouble their efforts to tackle the hardcore of prolific offenders who commit offenc es that can often disproportionately hit the poor and the vulnerable."
Jon Collins, deputy director of the Police Foundation, an independent policing think-tank, said: " Nobody knows exactly why some, but not all, forms of crime captured in the official statistics have fallen so substantially and continue to fall, particularly given the current economic circumstances. It is likely to be the product of a number of related factors, including improved security and better policing.
"However, the police and the Government should be wary of resting on their laurels.
"While crimes such as burglary and car crime are clearly not the problem that they once were, it's possible that the official crime figures are just not picking up the extent to which new opportunities for crimes like fraud and counterfeiting have emerged, particularly online.
"In welcoming falling crime rates, it's important not to be blind to new and emerging challenges.
Tony Lloyd, chairman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) Board and Greater Manchester PCC, said: "Overall recorded crime is down to record low levels which will be welcome news to local communities. Congratulations must go to the police and partner agencies who continue to work together to reduce crime year-on-year.
"I am concerned however about the increase in sexual offences. Although some of the recorded increase is related to historical cases this is a worrying trend and which must be addressed. There is also a need to offer greater support to the victims of sexual offences.
"Police and Crime Commissioners are very supportive of their local Sexual Assault Referral Centres and other local support services which continue to play an important role in supporting victims.
"We must also work to encourage greater co-ordination between support groups and the police to ensure that victims feel confident to speak out."
Shadow policing minister Jack Dromey said that, while long-ter rm reductions in crime levels are continuing, the pace of the reductions is slowing.
He said: "There are worrying increases in muggings across the country, while violence against the person has increased in 13 police force areas across England and Wales, with notable increases in some areas.
"And, as police leaders are saying, crime is changing.
"Fraud has increased by 21%, but we know this is just the tip of the iceberg because much online crime goes unreported. That's why the Government needs to follow Labour's lead with a serious action plan to tackle online fraud and scams.
"The significant increase in sexual offences must of course be seen in the context of Operation Yewtree but, as the Office for National Statistics states, this is thought to only partly explain the rise. The Government should be working with forces to tackle this crime, instead of making it harder by destroying DNA.
"Theresa May is showing a worrying level of complacency and this Government is making it harder, not easier, to tackle crime. After crime fell by 43% with Labour it's time this out-of-touch Government came up with a plan rather than sitting on their hands."