07/02/2013 06:27 GMT | Updated 07/02/2013 06:29 GMT

Murders In England And Wales 'Lowest In More Than 20 Years' Fresh Figures Show

The number of murders in England and Wales is the lowest it has been in more than 20 years, according to the Office for National Statistics, whose records also show that violent incidents have halved since 1995.

Crime data showed that 540 murders were recorded in England and Wales from 2011 to 2012, which is the lowest since 1989, when 521 incidents were reported.

Murders peaked in the year 2002 to 2003, but this number has gradually come down over the past decade.

Altogether there were 2.1 million violent incidents recorded over the last year, with 3% of adults becoming a victim of such a crime.

'Violent incidents' include minor assaults that result in no physical harm, through to serious assault and murder.

More than half a million victims of sexual assault were recorded in the last year. The 536,000 incidents include offences from indecent exposure to rape. That's nearly 1,500 offences reported each day, a figure that seems less stark if it is taken into account that half of the incidents recorded resulted in no physical injury, the ONS said.

There were two million cases of domestic abuse last year, with statistics remaining stagnant. Women were more likely to be a victim of domestic abuse with some 7% of women and 5% of men estimated to have experienced this kind of violence in the last year, equivalent to an estimated 1.2 million female and 800,000 male victims.

The levels were lower than those in the 2004/05 but there has been "no statistically significant change since 2008/09," the ONS showed.

Young men were most likely to be the victims of violence. More than two-thirds of homicide victims (68%) were male and more likely to be committed by a friend or acquaintance.

Similarly, the survey found that young women who much more likely to be victims of sexual assault in the last year. Homicides against women were most likely to be committed by a partner or ex-partner.