MP in clash over crime figures

PUBLISHED: 15:12 28 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:12 06 May 2010

St Albans MP Anne Main

St Albans MP Anne Main

A CLAIM by MP Anne Main that violent crime in the St Albans district has almost doubled in the past five years has been strongly denied by police. Mrs Main, MP for St Albans, said last week that she had uncovered Government statistics which revealed the s

A CLAIM by MP Anne Main that violent crime in the St Albans district has almost doubled in the past five years has been strongly denied by police.

Mrs Main, MP for St Albans, said last week that she had uncovered Government statistics which revealed the scale of the increase in crimes involving violence against the person had leapt up.

The figures show 889 incidents between 2002/3 and 1,713 in 2006/7 and Mrs Main commented that while every district in Herts had seen a significant rise, in St Albans the number of offences had nearly doubled.

She added: "Constituents tell me that fear of crime, particularly violent crime, is a cause for concern. It is worrying that St Albans appears to have suffered such a large increase."

But a police spokesperson said that between 2002 and 2004 there had been a major change in Herts that had affected the number of recorded violent crimes.

That was the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in 2002 and subsequent changes in recording practices in Herts.

He added: "This resulted, both locally and with some other forces nationally, in the increased recording of low-level thuggish behaviour such as common assaults that result in minor or no physical injury but which inflated the recorded violent crime figures.

"This means that the large increases that occurred during this period were the result of statistical changes rather than a sudden dramatic increase in violence in Herts. This has been a subject that the constabulary has regularly communicated over the past five years to the public in Herts."

The spokesperson pointed out that latest crime statistics for 2007/8 had demonstrated that violent crime in St Albans fell by nearly 29 per cent with 493 fewer offences than in the previous year.

In the county overall, crime fell by more than 21 per cent with 3,555 violent crimes recorded.

He added: "The police can and do tackle crime but combating the fear of crime is more difficult.

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