Categorized | Criminal Justice

Crime statistics

Crime statistics

There are two main sources of official statistics on crime: the police recorded series and the British Crime Survey (BCS). The BCS is a nationally representative sample survey of the population resident in households in England and Wales, now based on more than 45,000 respondents.
 
As a household based survey, the BCS does not cover all offences or all population groups. While police recorded crime has a wider coverage of offences, including crimes such as drug and sexual offences, and covers the entire population, it does not include those crimes not reported to the police. Both sources have their strengths and weaknesses but together provide a more comprehensive picture than either on its own. Home Secretary Theresa May has announced a review by the national statistician, with the publication of crime statistics transferred from the Home Office to an independent body to improve “public trust and confidence in crime statistics.”

The most striking new finding within the latest report is that both the 2009/10 BCS and police recorded crime are consistent in showing falls in overall crime compared with 2008/09. Overall BCS crime decreased by nine per cent (from 10.5 million crimes to 9.6 million crimes), and police recorded crime by eight per cent (from 4.7 million to 4.3 million crimes). Both sources are consistent in showing marked falls in vehicle crime (BCS vehicle-related theft down 17% and police recorded vehicle crime down 16%). In addition, the 9% fall in domestic burglary from the BCS is broadly in line with the 6% reduction recorded by the police. The 2009/10 BCS shows there were an estimated 659,000 domestic burglary incidents in England and Wales. The number of incidents of theft from the person fell by 28 per cent. Overall police recorded property crime fell by ten per cent between 2008/09 and 2009/10, from 3,352,989 offences to 3,032,182. There were falls in all main recorded property crime categories.

Over recent years there has been an overall reduction in violent crime estimated by the BCS, consistent with trends in police recorded crime. The murder rate in England and Wales has fallen from 644 to 619 over the last year to its lowest level for 12 years. Police recorded violence against the person fell by four per cent between 2008/09 and 2009/10. Longer term trends from the BCS show violent crime down by 50 per cent from its peak in 1995. Sexual offences recorded by the police increased between 2008/09 and 2009/10 by six per cent. Within this category, there was a seven per cent increase in ‘Most serious sexual crime’ and a two per cent increase in ‘Other sexual offences’ over the same period. This increase coincides with steps the police have been taking to improve the recording of serious sexual offences. Police recorded drug offences fell by four per cent between 2008/09 and 2009/10, this being the first year-on-year fall since the police were given greater powers to issue warnings for cannabis possession in 2004/05, which account for over two-thirds of drug offences.

There is a clear pattern from the BCS of crime reaching a peak in 1995 with a subsequent decline, with overall crime down by 50 per cent since 1995. The full 200 page text of the ‘Crime in England and Wales 2009/10’ report, full of fascinating details, charts and diagrams, can be found at:

http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs10/hosb1210.pdf

This post was written by:

- who has written 462 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.

Mike Gribbin is a retired Civil Servant with wide experience, including the drafting and implementation of Parliamentary legislation and regulations. He is the editor of “Criminal Offences Handbook”, a uniquely comprehensive guide to more than one thousand ways to fall foul of UK criminal law. He is Editor of the Upper Case Legal Journal and has been writing blog posts for the past eight years.

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