Rich Text Version (rtf) – this version of the report has been produced in rtf format and all maps, tables and charts have been removed. A full version is available on this website in pdf format




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Housing Benefit

People are eligible to receive Housing Benefit (HB) only if they are liable to pay rent in respect of the dwelling they occupy as their home. Couples are treated as a single benefit unit. The amount of benefit depends on eligible rent, income, deductions in respect of any non-dependents and deductions where food, fuel and water are included. People who are liable to pay rent but who have capital in excess of £16,000 are not entitled to HB.

In August 2007, 21.6 per cent of households in London claimed Housing Benefit, which amounts to a total of 698,300 households. This compares with the rate for Great Britain of 16.4 per cent. The London rate is the highest of any region or country in Great Britain and compares with 12.3 per cent in the South East; the lowest claimant rate (Table 8.9).

Hackney (38.1 per cent), Tower Hamlets (38.1 per cent), Newham (37.6) and Islington (35.2) rank as the top four Local Authorities nationally in terms of HB claimant rates. There are 11 London boroughs with HB claimant rates inside the top 20 claimant rates nationally.


Council Tax Benefit

Council Tax Benefit (CTB) is designed to help people on low incomes pay their council tax. Generally, it mirrors the Housing Benefit Scheme in the calculation of claimants’ applicable amount, resources and deductions in respect of any non-dependents. There were 728 thousand London households in receipt of Council Tax Benefit in August 2007. This corresponded to a claimant rate of 22.5 per cent and was exactly the same as the November 2006 figure. This compares with the Great Britain figure of 20.7 per cent, but is significantly less than the rate of 27.2 per cent recorded in the North East.

Hackney (38.1), Tower Hamlets (38.1) and Newham all feature in the five highest rates of Council Tax Benefit claimants in Great Britain. A further three boroughs are included the top 20. Richmond maintained its status as the borough with the lowest claimant rate of just 11.8 per cent.

Figure 8.11 shows a comparison of claimant rates for both Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. In all cases the rate of claimant for Council Tax Benefit is higher than that for Housing Benefit. However, in London the gap between rates is significantly smaller than in other regions at just 0.9 percentage points. The next closest region is the South East with 2.5 percentage points and the Great Britain figure is 4.3 per cent.


Emergency Services

» According to Home Office figures, the total number of crimes recorded in London in 2007/08 was 869,604, the highest of the regions in England and Wales but represents a reduction of six per cent compared with 2006/07.

» Crime fell across all categories except for drugs offences. The largest reductions were in robbery (down 19 per cent) and Fraud and Forgery (down 23 per cent).

» Total crime has fallen by 6.5 per cent compared with ten years ago, and by 21 per cent against the peak in that period (2002/03).

» In 2007/08, almost 220 thousand crimes were cleared up in London, an increase of approximately 22 thousand crimes on the previous year. The sanction detection rate for crime in London was 25 per cent, an increase from 21 per cent in 2006/07.

» Over 700 thousand calls required immediate attendance, averaging at over 1,900 calls per day to the Met Police, during 2007/08.

» In the 2008/09 year, the London Ambulance Service responded to a total of 973,622 emergency incidents. This represents an increase of around three per cent on the previous year and of 27 per cent from 2000/2001.

» The most common incidents involved falls or back injuries, accounting for an eighth of all calls. Breathing problems was the second most common reason.

» Five London boroughs had rates of 15 incidents or more per 100 population; Westminster, Lambeth, Islington, Barking and Dagenham and Newham. The lowest rates were recorded in Richmond, Harrow and Merton.

» The London Fire Brigade answered over 229,000 emergency 999 calls in 2008/09. This was ten per cent lower than in 2007/08 and represents a continuation of the gradual fall in the calls the brigade receives.

» In total, 138,385 incidents were responded to in 2008/09. This has fallen by over 47,000 since 2001/02 representing a drop of a quarter over the seven year period.

» Just over a fifth of all incidents attended were for fires. There were more than double the number of false alarms than there were fires in 2008/09.


Police

Introduction

London is the capital and is the largest city in the UK. It has the largest economy, the largest population, and the largest police service. London also has more crime than any other region in England and Wales. This chapter draws on a range of sources, including the 2007/08 British Crime Survey, Home Office crime figures, and the police’s own crime and incident data.

This chapter begins with an overview of recorded crime at a regional level and then local level, before examining trends in the type of crime recorded, the number of crimes solved by police, and crime by and against young people. For this year’s Focus on London report, calls for police from the public are also included. This data gives an overview of the amount of policing that goes on in London, but does not always involve an actual crime, and so reflects the broader role of police.

Recorded crime at regional level

According to Home Office figures, the total number of crimes recorded in London in 2007/08 was 869,604 (18 per cent of the total for England and Wales). As Table 9.1 shows, this is the highest of the regions in England and Wales but represents a reduction of six per cent compared with 2006/07. Alongside Wales and East Midlands regions, London recorded the smallest reduction (the largest was the North West with 12 per cent). No region recorded an increase.

Table 9.2 shows that London continues to record the highest total recorded crime rate per head of population (at 116 offences per 1,000 residents) compared with the national average of 91. The crime rate in London fell by eight compared with 2006/07, which was on a par with the national average reduction of nine.

Regional comparisons are problematic due to the different characteristics between London and the regions. London is almost completely urban and its population is increased by large numbers of commuters and visitors each day. This constitutes inter-regional travel on a scale not experienced elsewhere in England and Wales.

The Home Office groups forces into ‘Most Similar Groups’. London is considered most similar to Greater Manchester, Merseyside, West Yorkshire and West Midlands forces. In 2007/08, the Metropolitan Police, which covers all of London except the City, recorded the second highest crime rate (115 offences per 1,000 population) amongst these five forces (Figure 9.3). Greater Manchester was highest at 117, and amongst other forces, Nottinghamshire (118) and Cleveland (119) were also higher than the Metropolitan Police.

Recorded crime across London’s Boroughs

Crime is not spread evenly across London. Westminster recorded the highest number of offences - 63,920 in 2007/08, which is far higher than the next borough, Southwark, with 40,085 (Map 9.4). This is because Westminster contains London’s West End, which attracts large numbers of visitors and commuters each day to its commercial and leisure industries. The number of crimes is generally higher in Inner London boroughs than in the suburbs.

Breaking the 32 boroughs’ crime rates down by resident population shows that there is a lot of variation. Westminster records the highest rate, 297 crimes per 1,000 population, but this is not a typical residential area and can be considered to be unique among the 32 local authorities. Harrow records the lowest rate, 66 per 1,000. Mapping the crime rates shows a clear difference between Inner London boroughs and Outer London boroughs (Map 9.5).

Types of Crime

Crime is recorded and reported in various ways. The Home Office publishes crime rates across different categories of offending. As Table 9.6 shows, London recorded the fourth highest crime rate overall, but results vary by crime type. Rates were joint highest for Violence (23 per 1,000 population) and highest for Robbery (5), but second lowest for Burglary (13) and lowest for Criminal Damage (14).

Crime fell across all categories, which may be a reflection of police activity. The exception to this was for Drugs offences, where numbers increased by 32 per cent on the previous year. The largest reductions were in Robbery (down 19 per cent) and Fraud & Forgery (down 23 per cent). In 2007/08, the proportions of crime show that one in four crimes recorded in London were minor theft offences. Figure 9.7 demonstrates that one in five crimes was Violence Against the Person, ranging from harassment through varying degrees of assault, to homicide. More serious acquisitive offences (Burglary, Vehicle Crime and Robbery) together constitute 28 per cent of recorded crime.

Long term trends in London Crime

Focusing on key crime types in London in the long term shows how crime has fallen in the capital. Total crime has fallen by 6.5 per cent compared with ten years ago, and by 21 per cent against the peak in that period (2002/03) (Table 9.8). All crime types share a common theme in that 2007/08 was not the peak year for recorded offences.

The data shows how the types of offending have changed at different times and also how changes to counting rules can impact on recorded, and then published, figures. Violence against the person peaked in 2004/05, having apparently increased by approximately 80 thousand from 1999. This is an example of changes to counting rules, as Common Assault and Harassment are not included in the total. Since the peak, Violence Against the Person offences have fallen by 14 per cent.

Robbery doubled in number between 1999 and 2002. This coincided with the market expansion of mobile phones. As desirable electronic technology became portable and more widespread, crime patterns adapted. Since the peak in 2001/02, robbery offences have reduced by 31 per cent. Robbery remains 41 per cent higher than ten years ago, and this reflects the changes in technology and society.

Both residential and non-residential burglary have fallen in the long term. The peak for burglary was in 1999/00 and 2007/08 was the lowest total in ten years. Similarly vehicle crime reached its lowest level last year, down 26 per cent since 1998/99.

Police priorities

The year (2007/08) was the final year of the Police Performance Assessment Framework (PPAF). PPAF was a five-year framework used by the Home Office to measure police performance against targets and their support for Public Service Agreements. The main priority for the Metropolitan Police Service in 2007/08 was the reduction of British Crime Survey (BCS) crimes. These were termed BCS Comparator Crimes and reflected the offences covered by the BCS. Last year, BCS crime fell by nine per cent in the capital.

Looking at specific crime types in Table 9.9, the largest reduction was in Robbery (-19 per cent), which reversed an eight per cent increase the previous year. London also recorded a large reduction (-17 per cent) in Rape for the second consecutive year.

Police figures break down violent crime into different methods and sub-categories. Both knife (down 16 per cent) and gun enabled crime (down 1 per cent) fell in 2007/08. Gun enabled crime includes offences involving real firearms, imitation firearms, converted firearms, CS spray or gas, air weapons and ball bearing guns.

Detections

In 2007/08, almost 220 thousand crimes were cleared up in London, an increase of approximately 22 thousand on the previous year. The sanction detection rate for crime in London was 25 per cent, an increase from 21 per cent in 2006/07. The detection rate in London was the lowest of the regions but the difference between London and the national rate (28) closed to three percentage points (Table 9.10).

London recorded the lowest rate for charges/summons of offenders and the lowest rate for cautions. However, the rate for Cannabis Warnings (5) was the highest in England and Wales.

Detections by type

Detection rates varied by crime type. As shown in Table 9.11, the highest detection rates recorded were for violent crimes, Violence Against the Person (36 per cent) and sexual offences (28 per cent). The lowest was vehicle crime (seven per cent). This is consistent over geographical areas where detections of this type are amongst the lowest. The London region recorded the lowest detection rates in six of the eight categories.

Demand for policing

In the financial year 2007/08, the Metropolitan Police Service received in excess of 3.6 million calls, handled by the three communications and despatch centres located at Bow, Hendon and Lambeth. Not all calls made to police concern crime, so analysing call data is reflective of the wider demand.

All emergency and non-emergency calls to the MPS are recorded on the Computer Aided Despatch (CAD) system and are categorised in one of five ways, described below. Not all calls to police require deployment and therefore cannot be allocated to a specific Borough Operational Command Unit (BOCU).

The definitions of the five CAD categories are as follows:

• I grade calls, which require an immediate response,

• S grade calls, which do not constitute an actual emergency, but nonetheless police aim to attend within approximately one hour,

• E grade calls where a response is required and the arrival of police is at a mutually convenient time for the caller and officer,

• P grade calls which are ‘police generated’ and made by any of the emergency services, and

• R grade calls, which do not warrant a police response.

Number of CAD calls by borough

Map 9.12 presents the total number of CAD calls received, broken down by borough. This equates to approximately ten thousand calls per day across the Metropolitan Police area. There are some interesting differences between calls and crime figures e.g. Croydon receives more calls than Ealing despite Ealing recording more crime.

Hillingdon receives a high number of calls because it incorporates Heathrow airport and routine security activity make a large contribution to the CAD total.

Number of I grade calls per borough

In 2007/08, over 700 thousand calls required immediate attendance, averaging at over 1,900 calls per day for immediate assistance in the Metropolitan Police District. This can vary from major crimes to minor incidents, all of which demand varying levels and duration of officer involvement.

As can be seen in Table 9.13, Westminster received nearly 60 thousand immediate requests for help in the financial year 2007/08, by far the highest number of any London borough. Lambeth and Southwark, both central London boroughs, each received in excess of 30 thousand I grade calls. Richmond-upon-Thames, Kingston-upon-Thames, Sutton and Merton – all in South West London received the lowest number of I-grade calls in the same time period.

Trends in emergency calls

Data shows that the number of emergency incidents attended by police has fluctuated over the past seven years, but remains below the peak of 750 thousand incidents in 2001/02. A clearer trend in Figure 9.14 is in calls for police that are not actual emergencies, but nevertheless require attendance within as short a time as possible. The MPS has a target arrival time of 12 minutes for I grade calls, and 60 minutes for S grade calls, and achieved this for 66 per cent of I grade calls and 51 per cent of S grade calls. The average response time to an I grade call in 2007/08 was 13.8 minutes.

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