Headlines: June 4th, 1997

A Mori poll carried out for the Local Government Association showed that crime tops the agenda of concerns about the quality of life. 75% of people questioned rated the services to tackle crime as the most important. In the same poll, ‘working to reduce crime’ came out as the top priority for local councils.The reasons for this concern have become clear from a procession of statistics. The 1996 International Crime Victimisation Survey showed that one in three people have been a victim of crime in the past year. The survey based on interviews in 11 industrialised countries, shows that people in England and Wales are most likely to become victims of crime and face the highest risks of being burgled or having their car stolen or broken into. Michael Hough, of the criminal policy unit at South Bank University, said the findings from the Home Office’s British Crime Survey, carried out every two years, backed up the ICV Survey.

A Demos report, ‘Turning the Tide’ also bears out the victimisation survey. Findings show that more than half the country’s young men and a third of its young women, admit to having committed a crime. It claims that research shows that young men are not growing out of crime as they reach their late teens or early twenties. Jon Bright, author of the report, called for a national crime prevention strategy. He said that half of one percent of the criminal justice budget was spent on crime prevention, yet Home Office statistics show that only 3 out of every 100 crimes results in a caution or a conviction.

A national strategy would involve much more than the co-operation that takes place between organisations now and it would require leadership. Nigel Whiskin, Chief Executive, Crime Concern, believes this is a role for local authorities. Commenting on the Mori survey he said: “Crime Concern has consistently advocated the vital role local government has to play in forming partnerships to prevent crime in neighbourhoods, town centres, workplaces, on public transport and in rural communities.” A feature of the proposed strategy would include annual costed community safety plans prepared by local authorities.