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Guns... or Not?

A Quarter of English are Victims of Crime

By Sean O'Neill
London Telegraph

PEOPLE living in England and Wales are at greater risk of falling victim to crime than citizens of most other industrialised nations, according to a study published yesterday.

The International Crime Victims Survey, based on 34,000 telephone interviews across 17 countries, found that 26 per cent of people - more than one in four - in England and Wales had been victims of crime in 1999. The figure for Scotland was 23 per cent and in Northern Ireland 15 per cent.

Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, said the research confirmed previous evidence "that levels of victimisation are higher than in most comparable countries for most categories of crime". Mr Straw said that although the police and other agencies were working hard to reduce crime, "no one should be under any illusions about the challenges ahead".

England and Wales were second only to Australia in the examination of "victimisation rates", details of which appeared in the Economist. There was a downward trend in crime levels from previous surveys in 1991 and 1999. People in England and Wales were at greater risk than anywhere else of having their cars stolen: 2.6 per cent fell victim to vehicle theft.

The average rate was 1.2 per cent and the Japanese were least likely to have their cars stolen with a victim rate of just 0.1 per cent. Theft from cars was highest in Poland, where nine per cent of people had items stolen from their vehicles. In England and Wales the level was eight per cent.

The percentage of the population which suffered "contact crime" in England and Wales was 3.6 per cent, compared with 1.9 per cent in the United States and 0.4 per cent in Japan. Burglary rates in England and Wales were also among the highest recorded. Australia (3.9 per cent) and Denmark (3.1 per cent) had higher rates of burglary with entry than England and Wales (2.8 per cent).

The risk of robbery was comparatively low in all the countries surveyed. Highest rates were in Poland, where 1.8 per cent of the population said they had been robbed in 1999, followed by Australia and England and Wales (both 1.2 per cent). By far the lowest robbery risks were in Japan and Northern Ireland (both 0.1 per cent)

After Australia and England and Wales, the highest prevalence of crime was in Holland (25 per cent), Sweden (25 per cent) and Canada (24 per cent). The United States, despite its high murder rate, was among the middle ranking countries with a 21 per cent victimisation rate.

Portugal, Japan and Northern Ireland, each with 15 per cent, recorded the lowest overall victimisation rates in the survey which was conducted by Leiden University in Holland and published by the Dutch justice ministry.

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