Crime statistics in the United Kingdom

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Crime statistics in the United Kingdom refers to the data collected in the United Kingdom, and that collected by the individual areas, England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which operate separate judicial systems. It covers data related to crime in the United Kingdom. As with crime statistics elsewhere, they are broadly divided into victim studies and police statistics. More recently, third-party reporting is used to quantify specific under-reported issues, for example, hate crime.

Crime surveys[edit]

The Crime Survey for England and Wales is an attempt to measure both the amount of crime, and the impact of crime on England and Wales. The original survey (carried out in 1982, to cover the 1981 year) covered all three judicial areas of the UK, and was therefore referred to as the British Crime Survey, but now it only covers England and Wales. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, similar surveys, namely the Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey and Northern Ireland Crime Survey have similar purposes. These surveys collect information about the victims of crime, the circumstances surrounding the crime, and the behaviour of the perpetrators. They are used to plan, and measure the results of, crime reduction or perception measures. In addition, they collect data about the perception of issues such as antisocial behaviour and the criminal justice system.[1]

Other crime surveys include the Commercial Victimisation Survey, which covers small and medium-sized businesses,[1] and the Offending, Crime and Justice Survey, with a particular focus on young people.[2]

Police statistics[edit]

The accuracy of police statistics is questionable.[citation needed] Crimes are under-reported, as victims may be reluctant to report them due to considering it too trivial, embarrassing, aversion to dealing with the police, or fear of repercussions by the perpetrators.[citation needed] The police also sometimes fail to record correctly all crimes reported to them.[citation needed] The police may not accept a person’s claim that they are a victim of crime.[citation needed] It has been suggested[by whom?] that the police sometimes deliberately do not record a crime to save time or manipulate performance figures.[3]

In 2002, the Home Office introduced a National Crime Recording Standard in England and Wales, due to a lack of uniformity in how police forces recorded notifiable offences.[4] One issue identified was no-criming, the practice of writing off reported notifiable offences from police force statistics. The National Crime Recording Standard was applied inconsistently across crimes and regions, frequently incorrectly,[5] for instance, it varied significantly by area: in the year to March 2011, 2% of reported rapes in Gloucestershire were recorded as "no crime", while 30% of reported rapes in Kent were so classified, making accurate comparison difficult.[6] This was sometimes due to pressure from performance and other factors.[5] During the period November 2012 – October 2013, an average of 19% of crimes reported to the police are not recorded, with one quarter of sexual crimes and one-third of violent crimes not being recorded, with rape being particularly bad at 37% 'no-criming'.[5][7] Reporting is inconsistent across local forces: "In a few forces, crime-recording is very good, and shows that it can be done well and the statistics can be trusted. In some other forces, it is unacceptably bad." The failure to properly record crime was called "inexcusably poor" and "indefensible" by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor. Twenty percent of reviewed decisions to cancel a report were found to be incorrect, and in about a quarter of cases there was no record of victims being informed that their report had been cancelled.[5]

Senior members of the policing establishment admit to long-term, widespread "fiddling" of figures, such as John Stevens, Baron Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, former head of the Metropolitan Police Service:[8]

"Ever since I’ve been in police service there has been a fiddling of figures. I remember being a detective constable where we used to write off crimes".

In April 2013, the framework for reporting of official police statistics was amended to address these issues.[9] The Home Office delegated the responsibility for auditing a police forces compliance with the National Crime Recording Standard to Her Majesty's Chief Inspectorate of Constabulary, later renamed Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Rescue Service.[10] The first statistics using the new framework were published in July 2014.[9] After the 2014 changes, five yearly rolling compliance audits by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Rescue Service found that police force still do not uniformly comply with The National Crime Recording Standards.[11] In 2014, the Office of National Statistics stated that the unreliability of notifiable offence statistics meant they did not meet the quality standards required of national statistics.[12]

England and Wales[edit]

English criminal law details a series of criminal acts, and when these should apply. English courts apply criminal statutes and common law as part of their responsibility for applying justice and dealing with the culprits.

According to the Home Office, there were around "1.3 million violent crimes in England and Wales" in 2017.[13] Other areas of crime included robbery (79,117), burglary (432,267) and vehicle theft (457,970).[14]

The strength of the police force, as of 2018, in England and Wales was around 125,651 of whom 37,104 are women.[15] 25,700 children above the age of criminal responsibility, 10, and beneath majority, 18, were found guilty of indictable offenses in 2017, and a further 13,500 cautioned [16] England and Wales has a prison population of over 75,000 (2018 estimate) and 3000 with home curfew. Around £2.7 billion is spent on the prison service of England and Wales each year.[17]

In 2010, ATM crime cost the UK a total of £33.2 million – just over 8 percent of total card fraud. According to the British Crime Survey, 6.4 percent of plastic card users reported being victim to fraud during 2009-10.[18][19]


Scots criminal law is separate to English criminal law, including the use of a not proven verdict at criminal trials in the Courts of Scotland. The list of offences is also different from England and Wales, and Northern Ireland.

In 2007–8, there were 114 homicide victims in Scotland,[20] a slight decrease on the previous year. In the third quarter of 2009, there were a little over 17,000 full time equivalent serving police officers. There were around 375,000 crimes in 2008–9, a fall of 2% on the previous year. These included around 12,500 non-sexual violent acts, 168,000 crimes of dishonesty (housebreaking, theft and shoplifting are included in this category) and 110,000 acts of fire-raising and vandalism. In the 2008–9 period, there was a prison population in Scotland of about 7,300,[20] equating to 142 people per 100,000 population, very similar to England and Wales. Spending on Scotland's prisons was around £350 million in 2007–8.[21]

Northern Ireland[edit]

Between April 2008 and 2009, there were just over 110,000 crimes recorded by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, an increase of 1.5% on the previous year.[22] Northern Ireland has around 7,500 serving full-time equivalent police positions, and a prison population of 1,500, 83 per 100,000 of the population, lower than the rest of the UK.[21]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b "British Crime Survey and other surveys". Research Development Statistics. The Home Office. 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  2. ^ "Offending, Crime and justice Survey". Research Development Statistics. The Home Office. 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  3. ^ Tim,, Newburn, (2017). Criminology (Third ed.). London: Routledge. pp. 50–54. ISBN 9781138643130. OCLC 951613662.
  4. ^ Office for National Statistics (2016). "Statistical Bulletin: Crime in England and Wales: Year ending June 2015". Office for National Statistics.
  5. ^ a b c d Victims let down by poor crime-recording
  6. ^ Rape crime figure differences revealed
  7. ^ Crime Recording: Making the Victim Count
  8. ^ "Lord Stevens admits police have been 'fiddling' crime figures for years". The Telegraph.
  9. ^ a b "Crime outcomes in England and Wales: year ending March 2016" (PDF). Home Office. July 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  10. ^ Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (2014). "Crime Recording: Making Victims Count" (PDF). HMICFRS. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  11. ^ Constabulary, © Her Majesty's Inspectorate of; Fire. "Crime data integrity force reports". HMICFRS. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
  12. ^ "Assessment of compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics Assessment Report 268 Statistics on Crime in England and Wales" (PDF). Office for National Statistics. 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  13. ^ Edgington, Tom (2018). "Reality Check: Are England and Wales experiencing a crime wave?". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  14. ^ "Crime in England and Wales: year ending June 2018". ONS. 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  15. ^ "Police officer numbers in England and Wales". Full Fact - the UK’s independent fact checking charity. 2018. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  16. ^ "youth_justice_statistics_2016-17" (PDF). ONS. 2018. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Here's how we can spend less on prisons and still cut crimes". Independent. 10 October 2017.
  18. ^ Gamman, Lorraine; Thorpe, Adam; Malpass, Matt; Liparova, Eva (2012). "Hey Babe–Take a Walk on the Wild Side!". Design and Culture. 4 (2).
  19. ^ "British Crime Survey". UK Home Office. 2010. Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved December 15, 2011.
  20. ^ a b The Scottish Government (December 1, 2009). "High Level Summary of Statistics data for Crime and Justice trends". Retrieved 23 January 2009.
  21. ^ a b "Annual Abstract of Statistics". National Office of Statistics. 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2009.
  22. ^ "The PSNI's Statistical Report" (PDF). Police Service of Northern Ireland. 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2010.