Crime falls 15% in England and Wales

Police officers Police figures show a fall across most areas of recorded crime

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Overall crime in England and Wales fell by 15% in 2013, official figures show.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales reported 7.5 million crimes against households and adults in that year, the lowest level since it began in 1981.

Separate police figures showed a 2% fall in crime for 2013, with increases in areas such as fraud (25%) as well as a 17% rise in reported sex offences following the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Ministers said the figures were "good news" and showed reforms were working.

The CSEW report, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), estimates crime levels based on how many people say they have been the victim of a crime.

Fall in crime

The survey suggested crimes against households and adults in the year ending in December 2013 were down 15% compared with the previous year.

These figures come as no surprise - crime has been falling almost continuously since the mid-1990s.

What is unexpected, however, is the size of the reduction: the 15% fall is the biggest percentage decline since the survey began 33 years ago.

The 22% drop in violence is also substantially more than in other years - reinforcing recent findings from Cardiff University's study of people treated for crime-related injuries.

The only statistics which tell a different story are those compiled by police forces. But these should be treated with an abundance of caution - not just because of concerns the figures have been fiddled but also because they hinge on whether victims report crimes to police or not.

The ONS said the reduction of crime measured was driven by a fall in offences - including household theft, which was down 25% and overall violence, which fell 22%.

Reports of vandalism fell 15% over the course of the year.

The figures also suggested there were 762,000 crimes experienced by children aged 10-15 in 2013 - down 13% compared with 2012.

BBC Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said the fall in crime came as no surprise.

But he said the size of the reduction - the biggest since the survey began - was "unexpected".

Police figures

Meanwhile, the police figures on reported crime for England and Wales showed a fall across most of the main categories of crime, with 3.7 million offences recorded in the year ending December 2013 - down 2% from the previous year.

However, increases in some categories were recorded, with incidents of shoplifting up 6% and violence against a person rising by 1%.

The latter is thought to reflect improvements in recording and possibly a rise in public reporting.

The rise in fraud comes after a move to centralise the recording of the crime.

Jimmy Savile Publicity surrounding Jimmy Savile sex abuse claims may have contributed to an increase in recorded sexual offences

And allegations against high-profile figures, including those surrounding the late DJ Savile, were linked to a jump in recorded sexual offences.

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: "Under this coalition government, overall crime is down by more than 10% according to both the independent crime survey and police-recorded crime.

"Today's statistics are more good news and the evidence is clear: police reform is working and crime is falling."

Severe impact

Adam Pemberton, assistant chief executive at Victim support, said the group welcomed the fall in crime.

But he added: "It is important to remember that for many of the victims of 7.5 million crimes committed last year, the impact will have been severe and long-lasting."

Chief Constable Jeff Farrar, head of crime statistics for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said the figures confirmed the impact that prominent operations on sexual abuse and fraud were having.

The figures do not cover Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In June last year, the Scottish government said there had been a 13% drop in recorded crime in the year to March 2013.

In Northern Ireland, crime fell by 2.9% in 2012/13 compared with the previous year, according to statistics.

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