THE full extent of Britain’s violent crime epidemic, which yesterday claimed the life of another teenager, is revealed in shocking new figures that show the number of street robberies involving knives has more than doubled in two years.
Attacks in which a knife was used in a successful mugging have soared, from 25,500 in 2005 to 64,000 in the year to April 2007. The figures mean that each day last year saw, on average, 175 robberies at knife-point in England and Wales – up from 110 the year before and from 69 in 2004-5.
The study, by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) at King’s College London, is based on the government’s own statistics. It shows that knives are used in one in five muggings, twice the frequency reported two years ago. The new figures will renew pressure on ministers to address the rising tide of violence and antisocial behaviour on Britain’s streets.
Violent crime rose by 5 per cent last year, with young men most at risk of being attacked, according to government figures. Vandalism rose by 10 per cent to more than 2.9 million offences, more than half being attacks on vehicles.
The figures in the British Crime Survey were published yesterday, with separate statistics from police showing a 3 per cent rise in robberies. Those recorded by police were at the highest level for three years, at 101,300, of which 91,900 were crimes against the individual, such as street robbery.
Overall, crime in the British Crime Survey rose by 3 per cent to 11.2 million while offences recorded by the 43 police forces in England and Wales fell 2 per cent to 5.4 million.
Only 1.4 million crimes were detected and just 47 per cent of those resulted in a charge or summons. Almost a quarter of detections resulted in an offender receiving a caution, the Home Office figures show.
Fewer than half of the criminals brought to justice by authorities in England and Wales are taken to court, it was revealed today.
A watchdog said offences are increasingly being dealt with by a slap on the wrist or an on-the-spot fine.
Stephen Wooler, chief inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “There has been a decline in recent years in the number of prosecutions both in absolute terms and as a proportion of offences brought to justice.
“Typically, prosecutions now count for between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of the offences brought to justice within a criminal justice area.
Three million more crimes are committed in England and Wales every year than Home Office figures indicate, according to a report by a think tank.
Civitas says the British Crime Survey is failing to accurately record the experiences of repeat victims of crime.
That survey puts a limit of five on the number of times a victim can be targeted by the same offender.
The report estimates the number of crimes to be 14 million but the Home Office said its figures were reliable.
Ministers have been accused of failing to combat street crime after it was disclosed that robbery levels have increased for the seventh consecutive time.
The number of robberies recorded by police jumped 8% to 26,600 in the final quarter of last year. The figure had fallen to as low as 21,200 at the end of 2004.
It was the seventh quarter in a row to show a period-on-period increase, and the first time robbery levels had topped 26,000 since April-June 2003.
Total violent crime in England and Wales was down 1%, but drugs offences rose 3%.
The British Crime Survey (BCS), which questions tens of thousands of people about their experiences of crime, also found more people were concerned about anti-social behaviour.
The UK is a “high crime country” with a very high risk of common crime, a European Union (EU) survey suggests.
The European Crime and Safety Survey said the UK had the highest levels of assaults without force and of burglary.
The number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen for the first time since March 2000, Home Office figures revealed today.
Opposition parties slammed the news as symptomatic of government cuts in policing.
News of the fall in officer numbers comes only days after the British Crime Survey revealed a 4 per cent rise in overall crime, with a 9 per cent leap in armed robberies.