Crime figures: street theft rises as overall crime falls

A policeman in high visibility jacket
Image caption The police say crime has fallen every year since 2004.

Street theft in England and Wales has increased by 10% - the biggest leap for a decade - new police figures reveal.

Recorded crime statistics show that rates of personal theft - like pick-pocketing - which had been falling, are back to 2008 levels.

But overall, police say crime has fallen by 3% since 2010.

Separate figures from the annual Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) show no "significant change" in crime levels.

The Crime Survey has been published by the Office for National Statistics for the first time, after taking the job over from the Home Office. It was previously known as the British Crime Survey.

The number of crimes reported fell from just over 4,159,000 to around 4,043,000, the CSEW figures estimate.

They suggest vandalism has been reduced by 14%, while the police recorded 9% fewer criminal damage offences.

Violent attacks against the person fell by 7%, with similar falls in both violence, with and without injury.

But the CSEW showed a 13% increase in "personal acquisitive crime" in 2011, compared with a year earlier.

This includes robbery and theft of personal property.

Deputy Chief Constable Douglas Paxton, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said he was particularly pleased with the reduction in criminal damage offences.

But he said: "There have been increases in opportunistic thefts and robbery offences and police forces are continuing their efforts to work with partners and the public to prevent these offences."

Policing minister Nick Herbert said, despite overall crime remaining stable, levels of crime are still too high.

"Police forces and local agencies need to focus on the areas of concern, and from November this year police and crime commissioners will be elected with a mission to drive down crime.

"We will do all we can to cut bureaucracy and give officers the freedom they need to do the job."

Shadow policing minister David Hanson has accused ministers of "taking huge risks with the fight against crime".

He said: "At a time when robbery and personal theft is on the rise, the Tory-led government is cutting over 16,000 police officers, removing crucial powers for the police in their use of DNA and making it harder for communities to install CCTV.

"The government is out of touch with people's concerns and taking risks with crime and people's personal safety," he added.

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