London, Dec. 1: England and Wales have the highest crime rate among the world’s leading economies, according to a new report by the UN.
The survey, which is likely to prove embarrassing to David Blunkett, the home secretary, shows that people are more likely to be mugged, burgled, robbed or assaulted here than in the US, Germany, Russia, South Africa or any other of the world’s 20 largest nations.
Only the Dominican Republic, New Zealand and Finland have higher crime rates than England and Wales.
According to the comparison of international crime statistics produced by the UN’s Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, England and Wal- es had 9,766 crimes for every 100,000 people in the year 2000. The US had 8,517, South Africa 7,997, Germany 7,621 and Russia 2,022.
During the period 1998-2000, Britain went from fifth to fourth worst in the world league table. An analysis of total recorded crime figures before 1998 also suggests that England and Wales have moved sharply up the league table since Labour came to power in 1997.
Crimes fell from 5.5 million in 1993 to 4.5 million in 1997. By 1999, total crimes had risen again to 5.3 million.
Last night, Oliver Letwin, the shadow home secretary, said: “This does rather blow a hole in David Blunkett’s claim that New Labour has crime under control. It is a damning picture.”
The UN reports also shows that England and Wales are the second-worst places in the world for assaults, with 851 people assaulted per 100,000, and seventh for burglaries and car theft, with 1,579 burglaries per 100,000 population.
Criminologists believe that a note of caution needs to be introduced into analysis of the data, because of the different ways in which UN member countries record crimes. A home office spokesman said that officials had not yet seen the report and so could not comment.