RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia State Police data compiled from localities across the state show violent crime, including murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault, is declining.
The state saw a decrease of nearly 5 percent in violent crimes in 2010 compared with the previous year, according to the annual Crime in Virginia report. The report tallies local and state crime figures.Nationally, the FBI says preliminary numbers from more than 13,000 law enforcement agencies show a 5.5 percent decrease in violent crimes.
The national declines signify success for aggressive law enforcement and corrections programs and comprehensive crime prevention efforts, according to James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University. He said the crime levels could easily rise if the current environment of state and local budget cutting extends to law enforcement measures that are working.
Declines also quash expectations that crime would rise in the economic recession. And the size of the most crime-prone population age groups, from late teens through mid-20s, has remained relatively flat in recent years.
The state numbers reflect the hard work of the law enforcement community and partners in the criminal justice system, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker said in a statement.
"It is encouraging to see these numbers continue to decrease in violent and property crimes, but there is much more work to be done," she said.The report shows property crimes like burglary, larceny and vehicle theft decreased nearly 3 percent in Virginia last year, about the same as the national average reported by the FBI.
Murder rates in Virginia increased slightly in 2010 to 4.61 per 100,000 people but still remain near historic lows. About half the victims were between the ages of 15 and 29, and 76 percent were males.
Drug offenses increased more than 5 percent statewide in 2010 after two years of decreases. More than 62 percent of drug arrests were for marijuana.
Overall arrests in Virginia increased about 4 percent to 360,008 in 2010.Adult arrests for serious offenses increased 4.5 percent last year to 125,529 arrests. Juvenile arrests for serious offenses decreased 3 percent to 169,995.
Arrests for lesser crimes like trespassing, disorderly conduct, bad checks and liquor law violations increased 5.7 percent for adults but decreased 7.4 percent for juveniles.