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WESTMINSTER WATCH - DTLR UNDER FIRE OVER CIVIL SERVICE BREACH

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Stephen Byers' department has been accused of breaching civil service guidance by releasing favourable crime statis...
Stephen Byers' department has been accused of breaching civil service guidance by releasing favourable crime statistics in specific areas where local elections are taking place.

The Conservatives claimed the DTLR was wrong to put out statistics showing falling crime in deprived areas as a result of government measures less than a week before polling day.

Shadow local government secretary Theresa May has written to Mr Byers calling for an apology.

But the DTLR denied officials had breached civil service guidance and said the crime figures were already in the public domain.

The guidance, issued by prime minister Tony Blair on 21 March, said: 'Particular care should be taken over official support and the use of public resources, including publicity, for ministerial announcements which have a bearing on matters relevant to local elections.'

The press release issued by the DTLR said crime rates were falling in England's most deprived communities 'thanks to a key regeneration programme'.

One of the local government secretary's ministers, Sally Keeble, announced the success of the New Deal for Communities programme in the House of Commons.

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