10th March 2010
Violent crime has rocketed by 44 per cent under Labour, official Parliamentary research revealed last night.
The House of Commons Library report is the definitive independent verdict on the 13-year record of the Government.
The Tories say the research backs their claims about 'broken Britain'.
The figures are a serious and embarrassing blow to the Government - which has repeatedly insisted violent crime was down and accused the Tories of using 'dodgy' statistics.
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'This new analysis confirms that the level of violent crime actually reported to police officers in police stations up and down the country is much higher than it was a decade ago.
'This just serves to underline the scale of the challenge the country faces in fixing our broken society.'
However, Home Secretary Alan Johnson repeated his claim that the Tories use 'dodgy' statistics and said violent crime was down.
The House of Commons Library figures take into account changes to the ways police count violent crimes.
Its report says the number of crimes of violence against the person in 2008/09 was 887,942 - an increase of 44 per cent on the adjusted figure of 618,417 for 1998/99.
The row began last month after a note circulated to Conservative candidates detailed a dramatic rise in violence in their constituencies.
Opponents attacked the figures because they did not recognise that the rules
for recording crime were changed in 2002-03.
Instead of police deciding whether an incident should be recorded as violence, the new system required them to do so whenever an alleged victim asked them to.
As a result, the level of recorded violent crimes soared in the first year the system was introduced.
Sir Michael Scholar, head of the UK Statistics Authority, warned the Conservatives that their figures were 'likely to damage public trust in official statistics'.
Labour MPs accused Mr Grayling and David Cameron of fiddling figures and insisted that violent crime had gone down.
Mr Johnson demanded an apology, while Gordon Brown said: 'We don't tackle the fear of crime by cultivating it, by claiming our society is broken. Sometimes as damaging as the fear of crime is the crime of fear.'
Mr Johnson was sticking to his guns last night.
His spokesman said: 'Chris Grayling has tried to get cover for his dodgy use of crime statistics and has failed.
'As Sir Michael Scholar, head of the independent UK Statistics Authority clearly states, the British Crime Survey is recognised as the most accurate way of recording crime levels.'
He added: 'This clearly shows reductions in violent crime of 41 per cent since 1997.'
The British Crime Survey is a questionnaire of 40,000 households, and is unrelated to actual recorded crime figures.
The Tories say the survey is not the best measure of trends because it excludes key offences, including crimes against under-16s, homicides, fraud and sexual offences.
A Home Office spokesman said: 'The British Crime Survey is the best indicator of long-term trends than police recorded crime because it is unaffected by changes in levels of reporting to the police or police recording practices.'
Criminologist Dr David Green, director of Civitas, said of the research: 'It is very revealing and fits intuitively with what many people feel and what many people have been saying.
'For people to feel that violent crime is going up and to be told they are suffering from moral panic has always been of some concern.'