Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Surge in Violent Crime to Put Labour on Defensive; Met Figures Show Offences Up by 10%

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Surge in Violent Crime to Put Labour on Defensive; Met Figures Show Offences Up by 10%

Article excerpt

Byline: BEN LEAPMAN

A SURGE in violent crime will be exposed next week with police figures showing offences up more than five per cent.

The Home Office announcement, only two weeks before polling day, threatens to throw Labour's election campaign off course.

While overall crime fell nationwide last year, next week's figures will reveal a jump in assaults reported to police.

Separate Metropolitan Police figures are set to show that recorded violence in London is up 10 per cent in the past 12 months.

Ministers will launch a concerted damage-limitation exercise, blaming the increase on changes to the counting system. They will point instead to findings from the British Crime Survey, published alongside the police figures, which are expected to show a decline in violence.

The Met has commissioned a report from a leading criminologist, Professor Mike Hough, which will suggest that violent crime in London has actually declined since the mid-1990s.

The raft of official end-of-year figures for 2004 is due to be released next Thursday. Ministers will be cheered by a sharp reduction in the number of robberies, down at least 10 per cent year-on-year.

Burglary and car crime will show further falls, continuing a decadelong trend.

But recorded sex crimes will show a rise of at least 10 per cent, which is largely attributed to an increased readiness among victims to report attacks.

It would have suited Labour to see publication of the figures delayed until after the election, but the release is in the hands of the Home Office, where civil servants are forced to remain politically neutral during the pre-election "purdah" period.

The Tories will seize on the evidence of rising violent crime to claim that the Government is failing on law and order.

Recorded crime figures for the first three quarters of 2004 showed violent offences up by between six and 13 per cent from the previous year. …

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