UK Crime Trends Not so Clear Cut

A recent tweet by US President Donald Trump referred to the contribution of terrorism to increasing crime in the UK as a red flag for the US, triggering an official response from the government in the UK and a public review of whether there was merit to the US president’s assertion. As always at Knoema, we turn to the data.
The official report by the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirms that reported crimes have increased nearly 14 percent since last year, yet this is neither the only or necessarily the best measure of crime given underreporting of crime to police. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), conducted by Kantar Public on behalf of the ONS, is an alternate measure that the UK government uses to track crime. While ONS data from police reports and the CSEW survey provide a more comprehensive picture than any single source, ONS notes that official statistics cannot provide an estimate of all crime in any country and can only be used to uncover long-term and emerging trends in crime.
  • The CSEW survey of approximately 35,000 households in England and Wales asks whether households have experienced victimization in the past year. The survey includes crimes not reported to the police and covers violence, robbery, theft, criminal damage offenses, and fraud and computer misuse, an experimental statistic introduced this year.
  • According to the CSEW estimates, crime in the UK  has decreased constantly since 2012 to 5.8 million offenses in the year ending June 2017, which is a 9 percent decrease from the previous year. 
  • In contrast, police recorded crime data shows crime incidents on an upward trend since 2015 reaching 4.5 million cases in 2017, a 14 percent increase from 2016. These figures, however, do not include fraud offenses, an additional 653,000 cases.
The ONS also points out that a genuine increase in crime was not the only reason that police recorded crime began to increase. Improvements in crime recording and more victims reporting crime were also significant factors behind the increase. 
  • Public order offenses, violence without injury, and vehicle offenses contributed the largest share to the increase in police recorded crimes, making up nearly 44 percent of the change. 
  • Per CSEW, a single offense, ’other theft of personal property,’ accounted for 37 percent of the decrease in CSEW reported crimes.

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