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POLICE MISS STREET CRIME TARGETS

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Tony Blair's pledge to have street crime under control in 10 key urban areas is under threat, with half the forces ...
Tony Blair's pledge to have street crime under control in 10 key urban areas is under threat, with half the forces set to miss the target and some areas showing increases in robbery - one of them by 44%, reported The Sunday Times (p4).

Five months into the government's six-month campaign, the most up-to-date figures available from the forces involved show that South Yorkshire Police have recorded 33% more robberies than in the same period of April to July last year, while Merseyside Police has seen a 44% rise during April to June compared with the previous year.

Nottinghamshire Police have recorded a 32% rise in robberies in April, May and June. Greater Manchester police saw 36% more street crime in April and May compared with the previous year, although assistant chief constable Alan Green said the force was 'determined to deliver'.

In West Yorkshire, police are predicting that by September they will have recorded 30% more robberies than in the same six-month period last year.

The prime minister's target is to reduce the number of street crimes between April and September this year to the level recorded in the same period last year. He made his surprise pledge in April. He appointed 10 ministers from different departments to oversee the initiative in each of the force area, which together account for 82% of all robberies in England and Wales.

They have been given more than£67m extra funding to fight street crime - predominantly robberies, but also car-jacking and violent crime involving weapons.

Some forces have achieved dramatic successes. The Metropolitan Police has seen street crime fall by 8.6% year-on-year between April and July, and officers in the West Midlands have achieved a 7% reduction. The Avon and Somerset Police is claiming a 30% fall in offences compared with last year, although muggings remain disturbingly common.

Whether or not Mr Blair's pledge has been met, it is likely to be subject to accusations that the government is spinning the results. Ministers are most likely to attempt to claim success by adding together the results from all 10 forces and treating it as a single figure. This is likely to show an overall reduction of about 2-3% compared with the previous year.

The total is almost entirely dependent on the Metropolitan Police, which handles about 70% of all robberies in the 10 areas. When Mr Blair made his pledge, robberies in London were already on the decline.

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