Daily Mail: Rising rates of violence cost every family 1,100

Friday, 18 September, 2009

VIOLENT crime is costing £1,121 a year for every household in the country, according to a report to be published today.

The Tory research claims the number of violent offences has broken through two million thanks to the dismal failure of Labour's law and order policies.

Costs have risen by £8.5billion a year - or more than 50 per cent - since Labour came to power, because of hikes in security expenditure, insurance premiums, and increased burden on the NHS and victims' support services, the report says.

In addition, there is the cost to the economy from lost working days, which arises out of the emotional and physical impact on victims.

Still further expense is incurred in responding to incidents, policing and moving cases through the criminal justice system.

Shadow police reform minister David Ruffley said: 'Labour's failure to tackle rising violent crime has led to a 51 per cent increase in the cost of violent crime - from £17billion in 1998/99 to £25.6billion in 2008/09.'

'This decade of violent crime now costs every household in England and Wales an extra £320 - an increase from £801 in 1998/99 to £1,121 in 2008/09.'

The number of recorded violent offences against the person has risen from 500,000 in 1998 to 900,000 in 2008, Mr Ruffley said.

However, not all violent crime is reported to the police - though all of it incurs costs to victims. The report says only around 40 per cent of incidents are recorded in Home Office figures. It estimates the total number of violent crimes last year was 2,157,501.

Critics point to a number of reasons why violence is increasing. Officers - under pressure to hit Government targets - spend too much time handing out onthespot fines for minor offences, rather than targeting thugs, burglars and sex attackers.

And 24-hour licensing for pubs and clubs is blamed for a rise in serious assaults in the early hours.

The cost of all crime is now estimated at £3,000 per household, or £78billion.

Britain has the fourth highest rate of recorded crime out of 39 European countries, at around five million.

The Government disputed the Tories' use of the figures, calling them 'misleading'.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: 'These Tory calculations are recklessly misleading, given the caveats that statisticians place on long-term police recorded crime trends.

'It is simply wrong to use police recorded crime in this context, as changes to how crime is recorded mean long-term comparisons are invalid.

'These numbers are a distortion of the true level of violent crime - which has fallen by 37 per cent since 1999 - or the cost to the economy.

'David Cameron has opposed so many of our measures to tackle crime, including mandatory sentences for the possession of firearms.

'Now they are deliberately putting out misleading statistics about the costs of crime. I don't believe the public can trust the Conservatives on crime.'