WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department says the number of violent crimes fell by 12 percent last year, several times larger than the average annual decrease from 2001 through 2009.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics said there were 3.8 million violent crimes last year, down from 4.3 million in 2009.
More than 80 percent of the decline in violent crime was attributed to a 15 percent plunge in simple assaults. They accounted for 63 percent of all violent crimes in 2010.
The combined total of property crimes and violent crimes was down 6.6 percent last year, from 20 million to 18.7 million.
The numbers come from the National Crime Victimization Survey, which gathers information on nonfatal crimes against persons age 12 or older by questioning a nationally representative sample of U.S. households.