Drug offences up but overall crime falls

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LONDON, Oct 18 (Reuters) Drug offences rose 14 percent in the second quarter of the year, Home Office figures show, but total recorded crime in England and Wales was down.

The rise in drug offences to 55,000 between April and June was attributed by the department to an increase in the use of police powers to issue warnings for cannabis possession.

The total number of crimes reported to police, compared with the year-ago period, was down 7 per cent at just under 1.3 million offences.

Domestic burglary was lower at 3 percent, car crime fell 12 per cent, criminal damage dropped 10 per cent and violence against the person was down 8 per cent.

According to the annual British Crime Survey (BCS), based on interviews with more than 40,000 people, crime figures were stable at 11 million in the year to June.

So-called personal acquisitive crime was down 10 percent and the risk of becoming a victim of crime remained at one of the lowest levels since BCS records began in 1981, at 24 per cent.

Levels of anti-social behaviour were stable, as was concern over crime, according to the survey.

Violent crime resulting in injury increased by 2 per cent, but fell by one percent, with no injury.

Provisional police statistics showed there were 9,712 firearms offences -- a drop of 6 percent -- in the year.

Serious injuries from firearms fell by 11 per cent. Slight injuries dropped by 7 per cent, but fatalities rose to 56 from 53 cases.

The Association of Police Authorities (APA) welcomed the fall in crime figures, but said authorities would have to work closely with forces to lower the risk of becoming a victim of crime, especially among the vulnerable.

A spokesman said: ''Communities tell us that the roll-out of neighbourhood policing has made a difference, and we look forward to realising further benefits as neighbourhood policing continues to develop across the country.'' REUTERS PD PM1755

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