Criminal activity continues to fall sharply across England and Wales
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Criminal activity continues to fall sharply across England and Wales

Crime continues to fall sharply across England and Wales, figures published yesterday revealed.

Police forces recorded significantly reduced numbers of violent attacks, robbery, burglary and fraud.

The total number of offences reported to police year on year fell by seven per cent in December 2009.

This meant 339,473 fewer crimes took place last year, with a total of 4,448,273 offences investigated by police.

The only major category to see an increase was sexual offences, which rose by two per cent with an additional 1,135 crimes, bringing the total to 53,239.

The last set of crime figures published ahead of the general election will be seen as a boon for the government.

And they will be welcomed by police chiefs who warned acquisitive crime may be fuelled by the recession.

The figures were backed by the British Crime Survey, made up with tens of thousands of interviews, which also showed a seven per cent crime fall.

The survey found the risk of becoming a victim of crime remains at a historic 30-year low.

The Government presented the crime statistics as a 12-month rolling total, instead of as quarterly figures, for the first time.

The largest falls were vehicle theft and other linked offences (down 16 per cent), criminal damage (down 11 per cent) and fraud-type crimes (down nine per cent).

Senior politicians and police leaders will be particularly pleased that violence continues to fall (down three per cent) as does robbery (down five per cent).

The British Crime Survey showed violence remained at about the same level in 2009 as the previous year.

Police figures revealed domestic burglaries fell by three per cent, while crime victims told researchers the figure was far higher at a fall of 12 per cent.

There was a three per cent fall in firearms offences recorded by police, with 208 fewer crimes bringing the total down to 8,063.

Drug offences fell by four per cent with 9,834 fewer crimes bringing the 2009 total to 235,018.

The crime survey also analyses levels of antisocial behaviour and found those suffering a "high level" of problems fell from 17 per cent to 15 per cent.

Fewer people complained about abandoned cars, rowdy drunks, drug dealing, gangs of kids, litter and vandalism but noisy neighbour problems rose slightly.

The proportion of people confident that police and others in the criminal justice system are dealing with crime issues rose from 47 per cent to 51 per cent. Cyclists continue to suffer with an eight per cent rise in bicycle theft, a total of 112,169 crimes, meaning an average of 307 bicycles are stolen every day.

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