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VIOLENT CRIME DROPS BY 17%; But some key targets missed.

Byline: By LUKE TRAYNOR

VIOLENT crime in Merseyside has been cut by almost a fifth.

But local police will miss targets for some key offences, with the Liverpool south 30 % off target.

New figures revealed 2,959 fewer offences of violent crime including robbery, sexual offences, assault and murder between April and August.

That was a drop of 17%, compared to the same five-month period last year.

But attempted murder increased 31%, while racially or religiously-aggravated wounding jumped 36 %.

Some rarer offences, like illegal sex in families, showed big percentage increases, but they equated to just a handful of crimes.

A report to the police authority revealed big drops in manslaughter (down 67%), death by dangerous driving (25%) and rape (16%).

But despite falls in three key crimes of wounding, harassment and common assault, the force was set to miss its targets on all of them.

Violent crime has been identified as a key force priority along with antisocial behaviour, acquisitive crime, call handling, criminal damage and citizen focus.

All basic command units have reported a drop in violent crime.

But between April and August, Liverpool south was nearly 30% off target for the of fence.

It has secured vital funding to tackle licensed premises selling booze to underage customers.

Officers are set to target hotspot areas of anti-social behaviour frequently linked to violence.

Officers in Liverpool south have taken part in Student-Safe, an operation giving crime prevention advice to university "freshers".

Assistant chief constable Simon Byrne said: "Mersey-side police has the lowest rates of serious violent crime in our group of similar forces. This is a tremendous success and brings us a step closer to achieving our ambition of being the best performing force in the UK.

"We are justifiably proud of this achievement but not complacent. Violent crime remains a priority and we will strive to reduce the number of offences further."

In response to the Liverpool south figures, Chief Supt Andy Cooke, area commander, said: "There has been a significant drop in all violence and particularly serious violence, which has been reduced by almost 20% compared to last year.

"We may appear to be some distance from the police authority target, but this should not detract from the work by my staff in reducing violence against last year's figures."

luketraynor@liverpoolecho.co.uk

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SUCCESS: Assistant chief constable Simon Byrne hails fall in violent crime
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 22, 2006
Words:399
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