City is third most dangerous place in Britain to live

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter

SOUTHAMPTON has been named and shamed as one of the most dangerous places to live in England.

There was a violent crime committed an average of once every hour in the city, according to statistics for 2007/8.

The 8,800 recorded offences mean Southampton has the third highest percentage of violent acts per population in England and Wales.

Only north Manchester and Sheffield saw more than the Hampshire city's 38 crimes per 1,000 people.

But Southampton's top policeman said the force is working hard to cut violent crimes, and pointed to figures which show the number of offences has started falling.

The league table, which is based on Home Office statistics on recorded offences, has been compiled by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which campaigns for improved personal safety.

The same research last year named Southampton as the fifth most unsafe city, but a three per cent increase in violent crimes has seen it rise two further unwanted places in the league table.

The trust, which was formed by the parents of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh, who disappeared in 1986 and is presumed murdered, is now calling on local authorities to do more to help protect citizens.

"Violent crime can happen anywhere," said chief executive Steven Gauge.

"All of us need to be aware of the risks and think about what we can do to stay safe.

"Police forces in the top ten high risk areas face a massive challenge in trying to bring down violent crime.

"The local authorities in the areas that are moving up the chart need to have a serious think about why that is happening and what they can do to reverse the decline.

"It is important that residents of the most violent areas take extra care with their personal safety but it is equally important that they don't let the fear of crime ruin their lives."

Southampton OCU commander, Chief Superintendent Matthew Greening said police are working on various tactics to cut violent crime.

They have recently signed up to the regional government-sponsored Tackling Violent Crime programme, which concentrates on alcohol, late night violence and domestic violence.

"Over the last year violent crime has fallen five per cent - between April 1, 2008 and July 31, 2008, 3,238 incidents of violent crime were recorded in Southampton, compared to 3,397 during the same period in 2007," said Chief Supt Greening.

"This is despite the thorough nature of our recording systems.

"We recognise that violent crime is an issue within Southampton, as it is in all cities and we are committed to reducing this further by working with our partner agencies, particularly looking at the effects of alcohol on violence."

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