HC Deb 27 November 2003 vol 415 cc401-2W
Mr. Woodward

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what estimate he has made of the number of(a) violent crimes, (b) gun-related crimes and (c) burglaries which were drug-related in Merseyside in each year since 1992; [141288]

(2) how many reported crimes there were in St. Helens in each year since 1992, broken down by major category. [141289]

Ms Blears

Statistical data on numbers of offences recorded in different areas do not indicate which may have been committed due to drug taking. However, results from the NEW-ADAM research programme of interviewing and drug testing arrestees between 1999 and 2000 sheds some light on the links between drugs and crime in 16 sites throughout England and Wales. Summary data published in 2001 found that:

  1. 56 per cent. of arrestees tested positive for an illegal drug with up to 29 per cent. testing positive for opiates (including heroin) and/or cocaine (including crack);
  2. of those arrestees who reported using illegal drugs in the year prior to arrest, 40 per cent. acknowledged a link between their drug use and offending. Past year users of heroin and/or cocaine/ crack were nearly twice as likely (78 per cent.) to acknowledge a link.
  3. Those not reporting any drug use in the last year reported an average of 46 acquisitive crimes (including theft, burglary, shoplifting, fraud, handling stolen goods, drugs supply and prostitution offences) over the same period. Drug use in general and especially use of heroin and/or cocaine/crack (hcc), was associated with much higher levels of offending. Among hcc users, respondents reported an average of 432 acquisitive crimes. This was nearly ten times higher than for non-drug users.

However, it should be noted that because an arrestee tested positive for drugs it does not necessarily mean that the consumption of drugs caused the crime to be committed. As a result, while the NEW-ADAM study advanced our knowledge of the links between drugs and crime, it will always be difficult to calculate precisely what proportion of crime is drug-related.

In September 2003, the Home Office Arrestee Survey commenced at 60 randomly selected custody suites in England and Wales. The survey is ongoing, and involves interviewing and drug testing a representative sample of around 9,000 arrestees per year about their offending and drug use. The survey will enable research into the links between drugs and offending and will also provide robust data at a national level to allow tracking of the Home Office Public Service Agreement target to reduce drug related crime.

Numbers of crimes recorded by the police in St. Helens are collected and published at Basic Command Unit (BCU) level. At this level, data is available from 1999–2000 to 2002–2003, and the number of crimes recorded are published for six key offence groups, as given in the table.

Number of crimes recorded in St. Helens Basic Command Unit from 1999–2000 to 2002–2003
Offence 1999–2000 2000–01 2001–02 2002–03
Violence against the person 1,693 1,795 1,913 2,406
Sexual offences 109 153 125 192
Robbery 171 168 214 190

Number of crimes recorded in St. Helens Basic Command Unit from 1999–2000 to 2002–2003
Offence 1999–2000 2000–01 2001–02 2002–03
Burglary in a dwelling 1,550 1,669 1,569
Theft of a motor vehicle 2,000 1,923 1,650 1,654
Theft from a vehicle 1,680 1,725 1,652 1,822

1Merseyside implemented the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) on 1 April 2002. This will have had the effect of inflating the number of crimes counted. Therefore, following the introduction of the Standard, numbers of recorded crimes are not directly comparable with previous years.

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