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Rioting is 'airbrushed' from official crime statistics as most trouble-hit areas record a DROP in violent crime

Published 20th Jan 2012

* Police in Croydon, one of the worst-hit areas,
recorded 7 disorder offences
* Nine of 15 most affected areas said crime was down on
a year earlier
* Not one force records rioting as an offence
* Figures also show knife-point robbery leapt by 10% in
one year
* Around half of all robberies took place in London
* Common items stolen are smartphones, bags and cash

The riots that left whole neighbourhoods up and down the country in a state of ruin last August were the worst civil disturbances for a generation.

But reading crime figures released yesterday, it is almost as if the five days of widespread looting and violence never took place.

Nearly half of the areas worst-affected by the riots saw crime fall during that month, according to Home Office statistics.

In Croydon, where a 144-year-old furniture shop was one of dozens of buildings burned to the ground and a photo of a woman jumping from a first-floor inferno became one of the defining images of the riots, police recorded just seven disorder offences.



Seven disorder offences. Rioting by hundreds of mostly-masked youths in the south London borough saw dozens of shops burned, including a 144-year-old furniture store. During three nights of disturbances, a woman jumped from a first floor inferno into the arms of firemen. It has since become the defining image of the riots.


Three disorder offences. Mass disorder by hooded youths who set fire to cars and threw bricks at firemen. Dump truck was taken for a joyride.


Six disorder offences. Mass looting, thugs fire gun at a police helicopter, three men are killed when they are mown down by a stolen car.


Eleven disorder offences. Marauding bands of hooded youths, some as young as ten, ran amok through the centre of the city ransacking shops. CCTV captures one man using a lighter to set fire one store on fire.

The disparity comes down to the way officers recorded the avalanche of offences committed during the unrest.

Some forces classified hundreds of feral thugs rampaging through different streets in the same city as just one incident of public disorder.

Similarly, mass looting in which one person broke into a shop only to be followed by dozens more was recorded as a single offence.

And not one force reported the offence of rioting, officially defined as '12 or more people who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence for a common purpose'.

In a statement, the Home Office said: 'It is important to understand the basis of crime recording to appreciate the impact of the disorder incidents on crime statistics.

'Police record crimes according to the number of specific victims, rather than the number of offenders.'

But Trevor Reeves, the owner of the 144-year-old Reeves Furniture Store in Croydon that was destroyed in an arson attack, slammed the police's method of recording crime as 'crazy'.

'You would expect a great big blip in the crime statistics after those five days of rioting,' he told the Telegraph.

'It is crazy to put down something like looting as one crime and is unnecessary. The whole world saw what was happening and to record it like this will just make them look ridiculous.'

Police in the London borough of Southwark recorded just one public disorder offence despite five days of unrest and 314 other offences.

Officers in Manchester also said crime fell during August, despite recording 11 public disorder offences and 386 related crimes.

A total of 184 incidents of violent disorder and 5,112 connected offences were recorded by police forces across England.

Despite this, nine of the 15 worst affected councils recorded more crime in August 2010 than a year later.

The figures did show that knifepoint robberies rose by 10 per cent last year and that one victim is held up by a knife-carrying criminal every 35 minutes.

Senior officers have warned the attacks are carried out by muggers determined to steal smartphones and cash.

Separate figures show a double digit rise in the number of pickpocket thefts – the biggest increase for nearly a decade.

Across England and Wales, robbery rose by 4 per cent in the year to September 2011 compared with the previous 12 months.

There were 15,313 knifepoint robberies in the same period – up 10 per cent from the 13,971 offences a year earlier, the crime statistics showed.

Around half of all robberies took place in London and the most common items stolen were smartphones, bags and cash.

The Metropolitan Police recorded a 13 per cent rise in robberies in the capital and West Midlands Police recorded a 10 per cent increase.

Former Met commissioner Lord Stevens, who is chairing a commission into the future of policing set up by Labour, said the rise in crimes against the person was ‘a bit alarming’.

He said: ‘I’m not surprised. It’s really worrying. We’ve got to get on top of them really quickly or you could run out of control.’

The British Crime Survey, based on a poll of more than 40,000 victims, suggested a 5 per cent rise in burglary, and a 7 per cent increase in car theft.

Pickpocket thefts rose by 12 per cent to nearly 600,000, while garden shed break-ins fuelled a 15 per cent rise in other thefts of personal property.

However, overall recorded crime fell fractionally. The number recorded was down by 4 per cent to 4.1million.

Chief Constable Jon Murphy, from the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: ‘While incidents in violence against the person fell, a continued cause for concern was the increase in pickpocketing, robbery and robbery with knives.’

‘This has been driven by a rise in robberies of personal property and police will want to focus on tackling these offences and offering crime-prevention advice.’

Meanwhile, the number of murders and other killings rose by 5 per cent in the year to March 2011, said the Home Office.

That is a rise of 28 – taking the total number of violent deaths to 636, up from 608 in 2009/10. The latter includes the 12 victims of the Cumbrian shootings in June 2010 by Derrick Bird.

Ministers are set to introduce a ‘tough’ law meaning automatic jail for anyone caught carrying a knife with the intention of using it to commit a crime.

Currently just one in five of those caught carrying a knife is given a jail term. The rest are handed community sentences, fines or other punishments.

Policing minister Nick Herbert said: ‘Today’s crime figures cannot be used to show there is a long-term change in either direction. There are areas of concern and, as we have consistently said, crime remains too high.

‘We know good policing makes a difference.’

Source: ' Daily Mail '

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