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5 things to note about today's crime stats

Thursday 21 July 2016

1. The adding of internet crimes should cause us to question our assumptions about what has been happening to crime


There were more than 5.8m incidents of cybercrime in the last year, far higher than previously thought and enough to nearly double the headline crime rate in England and Wales. (The ONS estimated such crimes at around 3.8m last year). The ONS have been at pains to point out that this shouldn’t be interpreted as meaning crime has doubled as we don’t know whether these new crimes are going up. But at the very least, it should force us to step back and question whether widely held assumptions about the last 20 years – that volume crime has fallen – are necessarily reflective of the reality.

2. The growth in recorded serious violence is significant


Today’s figures confirm significant growth in recorded violence against the person (up 27%), sexual offences (up 21%) and knife crime (up 10%). It is important not to over-interpret these figures as some, if not most, of the growth will be down to improvements in recording practices – though homicide, which is not subject to changes in recording practices, is also showing an upward trend – having grown to its highest level in 5 years. In truth, it is difficult to ascertain whether or not they represent an underlying trend. It is noteworthy that HMIC has previously said that violence is one of the crime categories most likely to be under-recorded. What we do know is that these crimes are more complex (and therefore costly) to solve, helping to explain why the CJS remains under huge pressure, despite falls in traditional volume crimes, such as burglary and car theft.

3. Domestic abuse accounts for an increasing proportion of violence


An increasing % of violence against the person was flagged as domestic abuse related over the last year (33%). Many within the police will consider this to be a sign of success – with victims and witnesses more willing to report abuse, following harsh criticism by HMIC in 2014 suggesting that many forces were failing to treat such crimes with the respect they deserve.

4. The impact of crime varies considerably by region


Two things stand out from today’s stats. First, that there has been a significant growth in recorded violence outside of London. For example, in West Yorkshire recorded violence grew by a whopping 76%. Large increases were also recorded in Warwickshire and West Mercia – narrowing the gap between London and the rest. (See Graph). Second, that recorded knife crime remains largely concentrated in London.

5. Children who are victims of crime are more likely to suffer from violence than adults


Of the total 6.3m CSEW crimes against adults, around 20% (1.2m) were defined as violent. Whereas of the 844,000 crimes experienced by children, just under half (49%) were categorised as violent. Of all the various social trends shaping our country, the susceptibility of children to routine violence is possibly the most under-discussed in national public policy debates.


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