Crime rate in England and Wales falls 7% to lowest level since 1981

ONS crime survey shows decline continues long-term downward trend, but separate police figures reveal 32% increase in recorded rapes

The crime rate in England and Wales fell by 7% in 2014 to an estimated 6.9 million incidents, its lowest level since 1981, according to the latest official figures.

The Office of National Statistics said the decline continued the long-term downward trend in crime that had been seen in England and Wales since the mid-90s.

The crime rate is 64% below its peak in 1995 and the fall has accelerated in recent years, dropping 32% since 20089-09. The statisticians said the only major category to show a significant fall in 2014 was in theft offences.

The ONS also published annual figures for police-recorded crime which show a starkly different picture. They record a 2% rise in overall crime levels in England and Wales, including a 32% rise in the number of recorded rapes to 26,703, a 21% increase in violence against the person, and a 14% rise in public order offences.

The ONS said, however, these increases were due to improvement in police compliance with national recording standards which led to more crimes reported to the police being recorded by them. The police-recorded crime figures lost their “gold standard” as national statistics because of poor recording practices.

The statisticians said the increase in the number of recorded rapes and in sexual offences to 53,559, the highest level recorded, “is thought to reflect a greater willingness of victims to come forward to report such crimes” as well improvements in recording practices.

A recent Cardiff University study showing a 10% fall in people seeking treatment for violent crime injuries at hospital emergency departments in 2013/14 seem to confirm the downward trend in violent crime.
The statisticians also point to the murder rate saying that homicides are unlikely to be under-recorded. The figures show there were 515 homicides in England and Wales in 2014, 37 fewer than the previous year and the lowest total since 1977. The home secretary said the figures showed her shakeup of the police service was working. “Today’s statistics show that crime is down by more than a quarter under this government. According to the independent crime survey, crime has never been lower – meaning families are safer and more secure,” Theresa May said. She criticised Labour opposition to the overhaul. “Labour have opposed all the changes we have made to help the police continue to tackle crime. They predicted that crime would go up, and they were wrong. All they propose now is tying the police up in bureaucracy again, stopping them doing their important job,” May said. But the shadow home affairs spokeswoman, Yvette Cooper, said the quarterly crime figures revealed the first rise in recorded crime for 10 years and showed “why the Tories were so wrong to plan to cut thousands more police officers, with even deeper cuts planned for the Home Office in the next three years than in the last five.

“Reports of violent crime have increased by a fifth, sexual offences by over 30% and reports of rape by 40%. Yet the police are unable to cope and more criminals are getting away with these serious crimes.”


Alan Travis Home affairs editor

The GuardianTramp

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