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New classifications of crime introduced after public consultation

John Flatley, ONS Crime Statistics, talks about the way changes aim to improve public understanding

Why was the public consultation held?

A public consultation and focus groups were held in order to consider feedback on proposed changes to the presentation of crime. This was held following recommendations from the National Statistician’s review of Crime Statistics in England and Wales in June 2011. The recommendations from the National Statistician were to improve the presentation of crime statistics in order to give the public a clearer understanding of crime.

What was discussed during the consultation?

The public consultation took place over the summer of 2012 and was preceded by a series of workshops around the country with users of the statistics. It was suggested that the police recorded crime series could be better organised into those crimes with a specific identifiable victim (to be called victim-based crimes) and other crimes against society, such as drug possession and dangerous driving. It was also proposed to make changes to the labelling of crime categories and movement of offences between classifications to improve public understanding. The proposals were broadly welcomed by users and also supported by the independent Crime Statistics Advisory Committee, which was also set up following a recommendation by the National Statistician. 

How will these changes affect crime statistics?

Since the consultation, changes have been developed in response to feedback from users for crime statistics. The most notable change was the new classifications were used in the crime quarterly release published on 18th July ‘Crime in England and Wales, year ending March 2013.’ There has been no change to the bottom line totals as most of the changes have been presentational, which means some offences have been moved between classifications, or have been separated out of existing groups.

For example, some offences which previously were included within ‘Violence Against the Person’ but did not have a specific identifiable victim (e.g. possession of weapons and other public order offences) have been moved into a new ‘Public Order’ category. In addition, Action Fraud will in future have responsibility for the central recording fraud offences on behalf of the police, and this has been taken into account in classification.

The new classifications mean that ONS crime statistic outputs produced before 18th July 2013 will be presented in the old classification format, whereas those after that date will be in the new format. This means that some sub-totals will be different from those previously published. Although, a time series on the new basis has been produced for key estimates which goes back to 2002/03 and  will help provide clear historical context to the latest figures. 

What future changes will be made to crime statistics?

The availability of revised 2011 Census-based population estimates for years back to 2002/03 means that key estimates from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) need to be revised with updated population totals. This is a substantial programme of work and will ongoing through the rest of 2013 with the aim of releasing revised CSEW estimates and microdata in spring 2014.

Categories: Crime, Crime and Justice, Crime Trends, Crime in England and Wales
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