Reid Braced For New Crime Figures

Beleaguered Home Secretary John Reid is expected to face further detailed questioning about his department’s performance with the publication of new crime figures. The quarterly figures for England and Wales from July to September last year will reveal whether the number of robberies has continued to spiral.

If the figures are poor, Mr Reid will be in the difficult position of having to explain why he has asked the judiciary to stop sending criminals to jail when crime is on the rise. He and other Cabinet ministers wrote to judges and magistrates yesterday asking them to send only the most dangerous and persistent offenders to jail.

The last batch of crime figures show a 5% increase in robbery period-on-period – it soared by 12% in the previous set of figures. In April to June last year, the number of robberies rose by 1,100 to 25,300, compared with the same period in the previous year.

The increase is the first since Prime Minister Tony Blair personally launched the street crime initiative in 2001. The most recent figures also show recorded drug offences jumped 16% to 48,000 in the three month period, which a Home Office spokesman said was mainly down to an explosion in official warnings for carrying cannabis.

There was a 2% fall in overall recorded crime levels, which was not said to be statistically significant. Meanwhile, the last British Crime Survey figures for the year to June show a 2% rise in overall crime, including a 12% jump in theft from the person.