The number of homicides recorded by police has fallen to its lowest level in almost 30 years, according to figures released on Thursday.
A total of 550 murders, manslaughters and infanticides were recorded in 2011, down 14% from 638 in over 2010 and 2011, the lowest since 1983, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.
The positive news comes as the total number of recorded crimes fell to 3,976,312 - the first time it has fallen below four million since 1989.
The number of homicides rose from around 300 per year in the 1960s to just under 1,000 a decade ago, the figures showed.
Since 2007/8 the figures have fallen to 550 in 2011/12, the same as in 1983.
Final figures, including a breakdown of the numbers of murders, manslaughters and infanticides, will not be available until January.
However, pickpocketing, thefts of metal, wallets, mobile phones and unattended bags drove a 2% rise in so-called "other theft" offences, following a 4% rise the previous year.
Police recorded more than 1.1m “other theft” crimes last year, up slightly from the previous year.
Separate figures from the Crime Survey of England and Wales showed crime figures remained stable at about 9.5m.