The latest evidence from both the police recorded crime series and the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) for the year to December 2012 is one of continued reductions in the overall volume of crime compared with a decade ago.
The CSEW shows a clear pattern of change over the last 30 years with incidents of crime reaching a peak in 1995 followed by a sharp decline to 2004/05 and a more general decline thereafter. CSEW incidents of crime are now 53% lower than they were in 1995 and 19% lower than 2006/07. The CSEW estimated that there were 8.9 million incidents of crime covered by the survey for the year ending December 2012. The apparent 5% decrease compared with the previous year’s survey was not statistically significant and continues the pattern seen since 2004/05 where changes have rarely been statistically significant from one year to the next but have led to larger (statistically significant) reductions over a longer period.
Important changes in police recording practices in 1998 and 2002 mean police figures cannot easily be compared to levels before 2002/03. However, it is evident that police recorded crime also fell over the last decade with police recorded crime levels now 38% lower than they were in 2002/03. The overall level of police recorded crime decreased by 8% in the year ending December 2012 compared with the previous year, with the number of recorded offences (3.7 million) now lower than at any time since the introduction of the new recording practices in 2002.
In order to give a more complete picture of crime, the quarterly release uses other sources of data, such as police recorded anti-social behaviour incidents.
While the overall pattern is one of reductions in crime, there are some offences which are on the increase. For example, police figures show that while recorded robbery decreased by 13% over the last year, and domestic burglary by 8%, theft from the person rose 8% in the last year to 107,000 offences. This represents a speeding-up of the increases seen since 2008/09 for theft from the person offences, with the latest increase occurring almost entirely in London.
Overall household crime measured by the CSEW in the year ending December 2012 showed a statistically significant decrease of 5% compared with the previous year; a result of decreases in vandalism, burglary and vehicle-related theft. All three categories are at similar or lower volumes than when the survey began in 1981. CSEW vandalism, like criminal damage offences recorded by the police, showed substantial decreases later than these other offences (from 2006/07 rather than 1995), and have therefore made major contributions to recent crime trends in both series.
Both violent and sexual offences recorded by the police fell in the year ending December 2012, compared with the previous year. Sexual offences decreased by 3% to 53,203 offences whilst homicide offences fell by 4%. Other violent offences fell at a slightly faster rate of 6% compared with the previous year although the overall volume of these crimes is still large with 728,250 offences recorded by the police in the year ending December 2012.
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