VIDEO: Crime falls to new low despite cuts

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Crime has fallen to a new low despite cuts to police budgets and another drop in the number of rank and file officers, official figures show.

But reported rapes have increased as more victims come forward to report historic sex attacks in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Fraud has also soared by 27%, prompting calls for more action to tackle cybercrime.

Overall, offences are down by 9% on last year - the lowest level since the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) began in 1981, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The data emerged on a day dubbed “police super Thursday” but was released amid warnings that forces have yet to feel the full effect of the Government’s austerity measures and would be unable to cope with a repeat of the 2011 riots.

Steve White, the vice-chairman of the Police Federation, claimed some officers are now forced to work 14 days straight because numbers are stretched.

He spoke as a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) showed five police forces - in West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Bedfordshire - would struggle to handle future cuts while others risk stretching crime prevention units after scaling back neighbourhood policing.

The ONS identified decreases in offences across nearly all the main categories of victim-based crime in its latest report.

But it found theft from the person went up by 9% compared with the previous year, and sexual offences rose by 1% overall, with a 2% increase in rapes following the Savile inquiry.

ONS crime statistician John Flatley said the number of sexual offences reported could rise further because of the “Yewtree effect”.

“What we are seeing in the figures today is that a greater number of victims of historic offences are coming forward to report crimes that happened years ago,” he said.

“Around half of the forces have given us information to show 950 victims have come forward to report offences that happened more than 20 years ago. That’s obviously driving the overall figures up.

“It’s possible the wider Yewtree effect could lead to an increase in sexual offences reported for a period still to come.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see these figures continue to rise over the next few months.”

He spoke as new Home Office data showed the number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen for the fourth consecutive year - by 3.4% or 4,516 - taking the total to its lowest level since 2002.

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