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Q&A following crime statistics announcement, period ending March 2013

Released: 18 July 2013

Also in this release

Q&A following Crime Statistics

Helen Warrell (Financial Times) - This survey doesn't consider any cyber crime at all and I'd just like to ask how you think this is consistent because actually a lot of evidence shows that while traditional types of crime are decreasing, cyber crime is increasing?

John Flatley (ONS) - Yes, when the National Statisticians review of crime statistics reported a couple of years ago, they identified fraud as one of the areas which we need to look at to try and develop our measures. As Mark has already described, part of that comes from the police rolling out Action Fraud and that will capture a lot of online crime which is reported through to Action Fraud.  It's easy for fraudsters to attempt frauds against millions of people in a matter of seconds, and it wouldn't seem sensible to include all of those attempts into the 'crime basket' in the same way you would someone trying to break into a house.  I would say the ratio of attempts to successful crimes in the area of cyber crime is completely of the scale compared with our traditional crimes and this presents a challenge for us in terms of count again.  It is something were are exploring with the independent Crime Statistics Advisory Committee.

Tom Whitehead (Daily Telegraph) - Can I ask a couple of technical questions? On the police recorded crime, in the sexual offences table 8:4, there seems to be a lot of high percentage increases in specific offences like rape or sexual activity of children within the age of 13 or under 16.  Is this all wrapping into this whole Yew Tree effect?  This is where you're thinking the effect is coming in?

John Flatley (ONS) - There is lots of evidence of it.There's particularly those areas where you can particularly see rape and sexual assault against children coming through as higher numbers.  That, and together with the information which Mark mentioned earlier where we've had information from around half the forces saying something like 950 additional crimes which relate to 20 years ago or more, all play into that picture that certainly seems to be a Yew Tree effect.

Tom Whitehead (Daily Telegraph) - And are you limiting the Yew Tree effect to this 950?  Because if that's offences of 20 years ago, surely is there not also a knock on effect on people who are more encouraged to come forward now even if it was an incident that only happened more 12 months ago? It could be more than 950 with the Yew Tree effect.

John Flatley (ONS)- Absolutely, that's just for 20 years ago or more.  In the bulletin itself we also give a bit more context about figures in the last year as well, so on page 32, top of the first paragraph there gives you some of the detail about this.  We also saw an increase in offences just over a year ago, more than one year old.  So we had 27 forces recorded 9,080 offences which took place in the previous financial year, compared with 7,729 the year before which in itself is an increase of 17%.  So that probably points to the wider Yew Tree effect of victims coming forward rather than directly related to Yew Tree.

Tom Whitehead (Daily Telegraph)- I mean potentially with the 950 as well you could be potentially looking at over 2000 extra offences?

Mark Bangs (ONS)- Certainly. It's important to bare in mind as well that these statistics are just part of a subset of forces we are looking at as well so it will be inevitably higher than that if you looked across all forces.

Tom Whitehead (Daily Telegraph) - Sorry two more very quick ones.  Did you say, the police recorded crime, I know you have this 2002 cut off with the change in recording stuff.  But did you say it's also the lowest number since 1988?

Mark Bangs (ONS) - That's right yes.

Tom Whitehead (Daily Telegraph) - But you argue it's not comparable?

Mark Bangs (ONS) - It's not a directly comparable figure

Luke Croydon (ONS) - Question at the back. Alan?

Alan Travis (Guardian) - Sorry, I just asked you to repeat again what you said about overall trend. This is because 19% fall is obviously a significant fall.  Did I hear you say that recent downward trend in recent years was now slowing?  Is that what you were saying?

Mark Bangs (ONS) - That's right. Since 2004/5 we've seen a slower decline than we did since the mid 90's where there was quite a rapid decline down to that point, and we've seen a slowing decline with a bit more fluctuation year on year.

Tom Whitehead (Daily Telegraph) - Forgive me, were you saying earlier that, I realise what you were saying back then, those aren't comparable.  Is it not clear whether an instruction in Action Fraud whether that is now showing a true picture of fraud because it's better recorded?

John Flatley (ONS) - It certainly will give a much better picture than we've had before, but what the difficulty is in determining, is how much of this change over has led to more victims reporting the fraud rather than there just being more fraud.

Jack Doyle (Daily Mail) - But would it be fair to say that this is the clearest picture that we've got to date?

John Flatley (ONS) - Absolutely yes.

Mark Bangs (ONS) - One of the hypothesis that we presented around this increase in fraud is the impact of having a specialist centralised team dealing with the recording of it.

Sun journalist ( ) - It would be fair to say that this may still only be quite a partial picture then? As you say as it kind of 'beds in' and then in a couple of years time we may actually find that this was only part of the picture.

John Flatley (ONS) - It's certainly only part of the picture in terms of it's only people who have taken the trouble to report the fraud to the police, or through Action Fraud; so they've had to phone up or enter an online submission.  We know there is going to be much more that isn't captured and that features here.


Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

    The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

    Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

    • meet identified user needs;
    • are well explained and readily accessible;
    • are produced according to sound methods; and
    • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.

    Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

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