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Crime: Economic Situation

Volume 488: debated on Tuesday 3 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment she has made of the likely effect of the recession on levels of (a) acquisitive crime, (b) violent crime, (c) fraudulent crime and (d) social disorder in (i) 2008-09 and (ii) 2009-10. (258570)

The Home Office monitors crime levels quarterly through published statistics, and more often through management data to inform performance discussions. However, crime levels fluctuate in the short term, and it is too early to draw firm conclusions about longer term trends and the influence of individual factors on crime in 2008-09.

Academic research, including a study by the Home Office, has demonstrated an association between changes in the economy and some crime. However, in looking at future crime, these studies cannot fully allow for the impact of policy or other interventions and hence do not predict actual levels of crime.

Since March 2003, overall property crime has fallen by 18 per cent., exceeding the 15 per cent. target set out in the Home Office’s public service agreement. That reduction is greater than would have been forecast based on economic factors alone.

The Government have long-standing, sound systems and flexible policies in place to deal with crime. These have led to significant reductions: overall crime, as measured by the British Crime Survey, has fallen by 39 per cent. since 1997. They also mean that we are well placed to prevent future rises in crime. As the Association of Chief Police Officers pointed out in January, the Police Service has never been in a better and stronger position to meet challenges caused by the economic downturn. The Department is confident that these policies and systems provide the flexibility needed to respond to future economic challenges.