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Map of the week: Serious violence

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Mark Easton | 08:39 UK time, Monday, 28 July 2008

My map of the week is taken from the newly published crime figures for England and Wales and shows how some places suffer significantly higher levels of serious violence.

Home Office map showing areas of serious violent crimes

"Most serious violence against the person'" includes those crimes recorded by the police where the injury inflicted or intended is life threatening: homicide and causing death by either dangerous driving, careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs, or aggravated vehicle-taking, attempted murder, more serious wounding or acts endangering life (eg wounding, poisoning and use of weapons and explosives, all with intent to cause serious injury).

The independent statisticians who now control the data say this: "Offences of most serious violence against the person will tend to provide a more reliable measure of trends than overall violence recorded by the police as they are more immune to changes in reporting and recording."

Most serious violence against the person offences accounted for 0.3% of all police recorded crime. There were 16,939 recorded offences compared with 19,150 in 2006/07, a decrease of 12% and the smallest total seen for nine years.

Now, I know some of you will find this hard to believe and might argue that the fall is down to the police recording less of it or people not bothering to report it. This seems unlikely because of the seriousness of the crimes.

For such offences to be increasing requires us to believe that as more people get shot, stabbed, poisoned or run-over by a drunk, fewer people report the matter to the authorities.

Given that the British Crime Survey which regularly asks 50,000 people of their experience of crime also finds such offences to be falling is further evidence that it is going down not up. The latest figures for woundings show a statistically significant decrease of 19% between the 2006/07 and 2007/08.

Most serious violence against the person is concentrated in a small number of geographical areas. The average rate for England and Wales was 0.3 offences per 1,000 population in 2007/08. A comparison of local authority rates shows that the 21 authorities with rates more than twice the average for England and Wales represent 10% of the population but account for 26% of offences of most serious violence against the person.

I tried to get a similar map for Scotland but nothing relevant exists. However, if you want to see what is happening there you can go to this site and make your own.

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