Press Association - Fear of Crime Disproportionately High says Smith

Wednesday, 12 September, 2007

The Government wants to build more confidence in policing because the public's fear of crime is 'disproportionately high', the Home Secretary said today.

Jacqui Smith said crime is falling, but the fear of crime could have a damaging impact on communities and individuals, weakening the social fabric and breeding mistrust.

'The situation is not helped by those who seek political advantage from unnecessarily shrill warnings that we are facing anarchy on our streets.

'Of course, tragic events affect us all and rightly make us question whether we're doing everything we can to tackle crime. But Britain isn't broken,'' she said on the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US.

Ms Smith told the TUC Congress in Brighton that burglary was down by 60% since 1995, violent crime was at its lowest level for a decade and the likelihood of being a victim of crime was at its lowest level for 25 years.

'These aren't the symptoms of a broken society, and to suggest otherwise is not only wrong, it blurs the issue.''

Ms Smith also confirmed the appointment of academic David Metcalf as the first chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee to advise on where Britain needs migration.

Doug Nicholls, national officer of Unite said the minister was right to highlight the need for a police officer in every neighbourhood but he believed that to tackle the causes of crime and alienation, there should be more youth workers.

'Jacqui Smith praised youth workers and recognised their value as well as saying young people should be educated in the value of trade unionism.

'But we need to expand the youth service and bring in 4,000 new full-time workers to work in the areas where there are high levels of alienation and deprivation. Then we'll start to deliver the improvements in our society everyone talks about.''

Shadow police minister David Ruffley said: 'The new Home Secretary is in denial. The Government's own statistics show that violent crime has doubled under Labour while gun-related violence has gone up four-fold.

'This dangerous complacency on behalf of the Government is putting the public at serious risk.

'Only the Conservatives will face up to reality and combat crime and its causes in order to fix our broken society.''