China capital says crime down ahead of Olympics

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BEIJING, Nov 22 (Reuters) China's capital has claimed a marked drop in crime so far this year, state media reported today, with police saying the fall sets a solid foundation for a safe Olympic Games.

In the first 10 months of 2007, Beijing police detained over 43,000 criminal suspects, an increase of 12 per cent on the same period last year, Xinhua news agency reported. The report said new crime cases fell by 2.7 per cent over the same period, but did not give details.

''The improved public security is a good foundation and necessary prelude for next year's Olympics,'' Beijing crime detection officer Li Yuejie told Xinhua.

Although much of China is relatively lightly covered by police, the capital is awash with cops, especially at sensitive events such as Communist Party meetings.

Security will be even tighter during next year's Olympic Games.

Beijing's police chief said in September that some 80,000 guards including police officers and state-approved volunteers, would help security service forces at the Olympics.

REUTERS RSA RN2343

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