Thursday, January 24, 2013

Crime Figures Again

The press is once again trying to make some sense of the latest crime figures. I have frequently touched upon the figures and what we should make of them. I stand by my view that the figures are driven by so many variables that they are next to useless. The British Crime Survey is about the best we have, and even that isn't too much help. Now that police priorities are being radically changed and activity limited by cash constraints, we just don't know what is going on. The overwhelming majority of crimes are never reported, and a significant proportion of those that are never reach the courts. Sorry not to have a quick answer, but ther isn't one, I'm afraid.


  1. A well-known police blogger recently made the point that a fiver stolen from a purse left unattended on a desk and an ATM ripped from a bank wall using a stolen JCB count as identical crimes from a statistical point of view. If the lady with the purse is persuaded to lock it in a drawer then crime is immediately halved.

    I seem to recall that there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

  2. I have always regarded such 'statistics' with scepticism, but my understanding from the news report I saw was that these figures are not official Home Office statistics for reported crimes (which, as BS has pointed out, omit the many crimes that no-one bothers to report because the victims don't believe the police will do anything about it) but a separate public survey, which did not depend on the reporting of offences but was purportedly more scientific.

    I doubt whether homicides are under-reported and yet even this category has shown a reduction. I am not therefore inclined to dismiss these latest figures out-of-hand. I believe they do show that fear of crime is greater than the actual incidence of crime really justifies. The press must bear much of the blame for this, and politicians just can't resist jumping on the bandwagon. This is not to suggest that we should be complacent about crime, but we should not exaggerate the risks we run in going about our daily lives.

  3. It is interesting that despite the gap in percentages both police and the BCS report a downward tuwn. This is borne out by many of us who used to experience a fair amount of property crime and vandalism.It has definitely diminished over the past five years or so. Long may it continue.

  4. The tendency for officers and back office staff to "no crime" incidents is now nearing overwhelming proportions. A broken window costing less than about 100 is likely to be "no crimed" at best, unless the perpetrator is known. Keying your car - forget it (can't prove it was done here/today). Attempted something, forget it and get on with life.


  5. I saw a suggestion the other day that there is a decrease in graffiti incidents because people can now express themselves on Twitter, Facebook etc rather than having to write on walls.

    Not sure I entirely believe that one, but it might be that otherwise bored adolescents can spend their time on the net rather than on the street, and that might have something to do with it.

    A bit speculative though.


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