1. Correction

After identifying an error in published tables a minor revision has been made to this release. The error related to data on the proportion of people who have been victims of plastic card fraud for the last two years in the time series (Oct-12 to Sep-13 and Oct-13 to Sep-14). Revisions have been made to figure 14 in the statistical bulletin (also contained in reference table 01. Bulletin Tables - Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending September 2014) and to the short story: A stocktake of crime statistics in England and Wales.

23 April 2015 at 11:00 am

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2. Key points

  • Latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) show that, for the offences it covers, there were an estimated 7.0 million incidents of crime against households and resident adults (aged 16 and over) in England and Wales. This represents an 11% decrease compared with the previous year’s survey, and is the lowest estimate since the CSEW began in 1981
  • The CSEW covers a broad range of victim based crimes and includes crimes which do not come to the attention of the police. Decreases were evident for almost all crime types compared with the previous year; including vehicle-related theft and criminal damage (both falling by 15%) and other household theft (down 9%)
  • In contrast, police recorded crime shows no overall change from the previous year, with 3.7 million offences recorded in the year ending September 2014
  • The renewed focus on the quality of crime recording is likely to have prompted improved compliance with national standards, leading to more crimes being recorded than previously. This is thought to have particularly affected the police recorded figures for violence against the person (up 16%), public order offences (up 10%) and sexual offences (up 22%)
  • The numbers of rapes (24,043) and other sexual offences (48,934) are the highest recorded by the police since 2002/03. As well as improvements in recording, this is thought to reflect a greater willingness of victims to come forward to report such crimes
  • There was an increase in the volume of fraud recorded (5% year on year), though it is difficult to judge to what extent this was affected by the transfer in responsibility of recording fraud offences from individual police forces to Action Fraud, or reflected an increase in public reports or a rise in actual criminality. It is thought that levels of fraud are substantially under-reported and thus these figures simply provide a measure of such offences brought to the attention of the authorities
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3. Understanding crime statistics

This quarterly release presents the most recent crime statistics from two main sources: the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW; previously known as the British Crime Survey), and police recorded crime. Neither of these sources can provide a picture of total crime.

Crime survey for England and Wales

The CSEW is a face-to-face victimisation survey in which people resident in households in England and Wales are asked about their experiences of a selected number of offences in the 12 months prior to the interview. It covers both children aged 10-15 and adults aged 16 and over, but does not cover those living in group residences (such as care homes, student halls of residence and prisons), or crimes against commercial or public sector bodies. For the population and offence types it covers, the CSEW is a valuable source for providing robust estimates on a consistent basis over time.

It is able to capture all offences experienced by those interviewed, not just those that have been reported to, and recorded by, the police. It covers a broad range of victim-based crimes experienced by the resident household population. However, there are some serious but relatively low volume offences, such as homicide and sexual offences, that are not included in its main estimates. The survey also currently excludes fraud and cyber crime though there is ongoing development work to address this gap – see the methodological note 'Work to extend the Crime Survey for England and Wales to include fraud and cyber crime'. This infographic sets out what is and is not covered by the CSEW.

Police recorded crime

Police recorded crime figures cover selected offences that have been reported to and recorded by the police. They are supplied by the 43 territorial police forces of England and Wales, plus the British Transport Police, via the Home Office, to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The coverage of police recorded crime is defined by the Notifiable Offence List (NOL)1, which includes a broad range of offences, from murder to minor criminal damage, theft and public order offences. The NOL excludes less serious offences that are dealt with exclusively at magistrates’ courts.

Police recorded crime is the primary source of sub-national crime statistics and for relatively serious, but low volume, crimes that are not well measured by a sample survey. It covers victims (including, for example, residents of institutions and tourists) and sectors (for example commercial bodies) excluded from the CSEW sample. While the police recorded crime series covers a wider population and a broader set of offences than the CSEW, it does not include crimes which do not come to the attention of the police or that are not recorded by them.

Statistics based on police recorded crime data do not currently meet the required standard for designation as National Statistics (see Recent assessments of crime statistics and accuracy later on in this section).

This bulletin also draws on data from other sources to provide a more comprehensive picture of crime and disorder, including incidents of anti-social behaviour recorded by the police and other transgressions of the law that are dealt with by the courts but not covered in the recorded crime collection.

Further information on the datasets is available in the Data sources – coverage and coherence section of this Statistical Bulletin and the CSEW Technical report (839.6 Kb Pdf) .

The User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales provides information for those wanting to obtain more detail on crime statistics. This includes information on the datasets used to compile the statistics and is a useful reference guide with explanatory notes regarding updates, issues and classifications.

For the expert user, the Quality and Methodology report sets out information about the quality of crime statistics and the roles and responsibilities of the different departments involved in the production and publication of crime statistics.

A more interactive guide is available to provide new users with information on crime statistics.

Recent assessments of crime statistics and accuracy

Following an assessment of ONS crime statistics by the UK Statistics Authority, published in January 2014, the statistics based on police recorded crime data have been found not to meet the required standard for designation as National Statistics. The full assessment report can be found on the UK Statistics Authority website. Data from the CSEW continue to be badged as National Statistics.

In their assessment report the UK Statistics Authority set out 16 requirements to be addressed in order for the statistics to meet National Statistics standards. ONS are working in collaboration with the Home Office Statistics Unit and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to address these requirements. A summary of progress so far is available on the Crime statistics methodology page.

In November 2014 ONS launched a user engagement exercise to help expand our knowledge of users’ needs in light of concerns raised about the quality of police recorded crime. The exercise has now closed and responses are currently being analysed and will be published in due course.

As part of the inquiry by the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) into crime statistics, allegations of under-recording of crime by the police were made. During 2014, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) carried out a national inspection of crime data integrity. The final report on findings from the HMIC inspections, ‘Crime-recording: making the victim count’, was published on 18 November 2014.

Based on an audit of a large sample of records, HMIC concluded that, across England and Wales as a whole an estimated one in five offences (19%) that should have been recorded as crimes were not. The greatest levels of under-recording were seen for violence against the person offences (33%) and sexual offences (26%), however there was considerable variation in the level of under-recording across the different offence types investigated (for example, burglary; 11%) and these are reported on further in the relevant sections.

The audit sample was not large enough to produce force level compliance rates. However, the HMIC inspected the crime recording process in each force and have reported on their findings in separate crime data integrity force reports.

Further information on the accuracy of the statistics is also available in the Accuracy of the statistics section of this Statistical Bulletin.

Time periods covered

The latest CSEW figures presented in this release are based on interviews conducted between October 2013 and September 2014, measuring experiences of crime in the 12 months before the interview. It therefore covers a rolling reference period with, for example, respondents interviewed in October 2013 reporting on crimes experienced between October 2012 and September 2013 and those interviewed in September 2014 reporting on crimes taking place between September 2013 and August 2014. For that reason, the CSEW tends to lag short-term trends.

Recorded crime figures relate to crimes recorded by the police during the year ending September 20142 and therefore are not subject to the time lag experienced by the CSEW. Recorded crime figures presented in this release are those notified to the Home Office and that were recorded in the Home Office database on 1 December 2014.

Nine months of the data reported here overlap with the data contained in the previous bulletin and as a result the estimates in successive bulletins are not from independent samples. Therefore, year on year comparisons are made with the previous year; that is, the 12 months period ending September 2013 (rather than those published last quarter). To put the latest dataset in context, data are also shown for the year ending March 2009 (around five years ago) and the year ending March 2004 (around ten years ago). Additionally, for the CSEW estimates, data for the year ending December 1995, which was when crime peaked in the CSEW (when the survey was conducted on a calendar year basis), are also included.

Changes following survey re-weighting

Revised survey weights and a back-series have been produced for the CSEW following the release of the new-2011 Census-based population estimates. The programme of work to produce the revised weights and key estimates for all survey years back to 2001/02 is now complete and both CSEW and police recorded crime use post 2011 Census population figures. Micro datasets for the entire affected back-series are planned for release in Spring 2015. Further information can be found in the methodological note ‘Presentational and methodological improvements to National Statistics on the Crime Survey for England and Wales’.

Notes for Understanding crime statistics:

  1. The Notifiable Offence List includes all indictable and triable-either-way offences (offences which could be tried at a crown court) and a few additional closely related summary offences (which would be dealt with by magistrates' courts). For information on the classifications used for notifiable crimes recorded by the police, see Appendix 1 of the User Guide.

  2. Police recorded crime statistics are based on the year in which the offence was recorded rather than the year in which it was committed. However, such data for any given period will include some historic offences that occurred in a previous year to the one in which it is reported to the police.

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4. Summary

Latest headline figures from the CSEW and police recorded crime

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) covers a broad range of victim-based crimes experienced by the resident household population although there are some serious but relatively low volume offences, such as homicide and sexual offences, that are not included in its headline estimates. The survey also currently excludes fraud and cyber crime though there is ongoing development work to address this gap – see the methodological note ‘Work to extend the Crime Survey for England and Wales to include fraud and cyber crime’. For more information on what is and is not included, see this infographic.

Latest figures from the CSEW show there were an estimated 7.0 million incidents of crime against households and resident adults (aged 16 and over) in England and Wales for the year ending September 2014 (Table 1). This represents an 11% decrease from 7.9 million incidents compared with the previous year’s survey and continues the long downward trend seen since the mid-1990s. The latest estimate is the lowest since the survey began in 1981. The total number of CSEW incidents is estimated to be 32% lower than the 2008/09 survey, and 63% lower than its peak level in 1995.

Crime covered by the CSEW rose steadily from 1981, before peaking in 1995. After peaking, the CSEW showed marked falls up until the 2004/05 survey year. Since then, the underlying trend has continued downwards, but with some fluctuation from year to year (Figure 1).

An animated version of Figure 1 is also available.

The CSEW time series shown in Figure 1 does not includes crimes committed against children aged 10 to 15. The survey was only extended to include such children from January 2009 and data from this module of the survey is not directly comparable with the main survey. The CSEW estimated that 721,000 crimes1 were experienced by children aged 10 to 15 in the year ending September 2014. Of this number, 52% were categorised as violent crimes2 (375,000), while most of the remaining crimes were thefts of personal property (304,000; 42%). Incidents of criminal damage to personal property experienced by children were less common (42,000; 6% of all crimes). The proportions of violent, personal property theft and criminal damage crimes experienced by children aged 10 to 15 are similar to the previous year (54%, 39% and 7% respectively).

Police recorded crime is restricted to offences that have been reported to and recorded by the police and thus does not provide a total count of all crimes that take place. The police recorded 3.7 million offences in the year ending September 2014, a similar number to that recorded in the previous year (Table 2)3. This is a change from the downward trend seen since 2003/04 in police recorded crime figures. Although the rate of reduction has slowed over the last three years, the latest figures are 21% lower than in 2008/09 and 38% lower than the peak in 2003/04.

Like CSEW crime, police recorded crime also increased during most of the 1980s, reaching a peak in 1992, and then fell each year until 1998/99. Expanded coverage of offences in the recorded crime collection, following changes to the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR) in 1998, and the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in April 2002, saw increases in the number of crimes recorded by the police while the CSEW count fell. Following the bedding in of these changes, trends from the two series tracked each other well from 2002/03 until 2006/07. While both series continued to show a downward trend between 2007/08 and 2012/13, the gap between the two series widened with police recorded crime showing a faster rate of reduction (32% compared with 19% for the CSEW for a comparable basket of crimes)4. However, for the most recent year this pattern has changed with the recorded crime series showing no percentage change while the survey estimates have continued to fall.

A likely factor behind the changing trend in recorded crime is the recent renewed focus on the quality of recording by the police in the light of the inspections of forces by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) inquiry into crime statistics, and the UK Statistics Authority’s decision to remove the National Statistics designation from recorded crime. This renewed focus is thought to have led to improved compliance with the NCRS leading to a greater proportion of crimes reported to the police being recorded than previously.

Victim-based crime5 accounted for 84% of all police recorded crime and fell by 1% in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year, with 3.1 million offences recorded. Within victim-based crime, there were decreases across most of the police recorded crime categories. The notable exceptions to this were violence against the person, which was up by 16% (an additional 96,000 offences), sexual offences up by 22% (13,000 offences) and shoplifting up by 3% (9,000 offences).

Other crimes against society6 accounted for 11% of all police recorded crime (with 399,469 offences recorded) and showed an increase of 1% compared with the previous year. Trends in such offences often reflect changes in police workload and activity rather than levels of criminality. Within this crime type, offences involving possession of weapons rose by 4%, public order offences rose by 10% and miscellaneous crimes against society rose by 12%. Drug offences decreased by 7% to 186,657 offences. Public order offences account for the largest volume rise and anecdotal evidence from forces suggests that this is being driven by a tightening of recording practices.

The remaining 6% of recorded crimes were fraud offences. There were 212,699 fraud offences recorded by the police and Action Fraud in the year ending September 2014 (an increase of 5% on the previous year). However, trends in fraud should be interpreted with caution. It is unclear to what extent there has been a genuine increase in such crimes or whether the move to the centralised recording of such offences has led to improved reporting and recording of fraud offences; see the ‘Total fraud offences recorded by Action Fraud’ section for further details.

In addition, fraud data are also collected from industry bodies by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). In the year ending September 2014, there were 391,221 reports of fraud to the NFIB from industry bodies, the vast majority of which were related to banking and credit industry fraud. For more information on these data sources, see the ‘Fraud’ section of this bulletin.

Overall level of crime – Other sources of crime statistics

Around 2.0 million incidents of anti-social behaviour (ASB) were recorded by the police for the year ending September 2014. These are incidents which were not judged to require recording as a notifiable offence within the Home Office Counting Rules for recorded crime. The number of ASB incidents in the year ending September 2014 decreased by 10% compared with the previous year. However, it should be noted that a review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC, 2012) found that there was a wide variation in the quality of decision making associated with the recording of ASB. As a result, ASB incident data should be interpreted with caution.

In the year ending June 2014 (the latest period for which data are available) there were 957,000 convictions in magistrates’ courts for non-notifiable offences (down 5% from the year ending June 2013), which are not covered in police recorded crime or the CSEW (for example: being drunk and disorderly; committing a speeding offence). There were 31,000 Penalty Notices for Disorder issued in relation to non-notifiable offences7.

The CSEW does not cover crimes against businesses and police recorded crime can only provide a partial picture (as not all offences come to the attention of the police). The 2012 and 2013 Commercial Victimisation Surveys, respectively, estimated that there were 9.2 million and 6.8 million incidents of crime against businesses8 in England and Wales in the four sectors covered by each of the two surveys. The sectors covered in the two surveys differed (‘Wholesale and retail’, ‘Accommodation and food’, ‘Manufacturing’ and ‘Transportation and storage’ in 2012; ‘Wholesale and retail’, ‘Accommodation and food’, ‘Arts, entertainment and recreation’ and ‘Agriculture, forestry and fishing’ in 2013); thus the two estimates are not directly comparable.

Trends in victim-based crime – CSEW

The CSEW provides coverage of most victim-based crimes, although there are necessary exclusions from its main estimates, such as homicide and sexual offences. For more information on what is and is not included, see this infographic.

Estimates of violent crime from the CSEW have shown large falls between 1995 and the 2004/05 survey. In recent years the rate of reduction has slowed and while the latest estimate is 11% lower compared with the previous year, it was not statistically significant.

CSEW domestic burglary follows a similar pattern to that seen for overall crime, peaking in the mid-1990s survey and then falling steeply until the 2004/05 CSEW. The underlying trend in domestic burglary remained fairly flat between the 2004/05 and 2010/11 surveys. Since then estimates have fallen and incidents of domestic burglary for the year ending September 2014 are 40% lower than those in the 2003/04 survey. The apparent year on year fall of 8% was not statistically significant.

Levels of vehicle-related theft estimated by the CSEW show a 15% fall compared with the previous year, and follow a consistent downward trend since the mid-1990s, explained in-part by improvements in vehicle security. The latest estimates indicate that a vehicle-owning household was around five times less likely to become a victim of such crime than in 1995.

There was a 9% decrease in CSEW other household theft compared with the previous year. This decrease sees estimated levels of other household theft return to levels similar to that seen in the 2007/08 survey, following a period of year on year increases between the 2007/08 and 2011/12 surveys. Peak levels of other household theft were recorded in the mid-1990s and the latest estimate is half the level seen in 1995.

The CSEW estimates that there were around 848,000 incidents of other theft of personal property in the survey year ending September 2014. The apparent 9% decrease, was not statistically significant. The underlying trend has been fairly flat since 2004/05 following marked declines from the mid-1990s; the current estimate is under half the level seen in 1995.

Latest CSEW findings for bicycle theft show little change in the level of incidents in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year (the apparent 1% increase was not statistically significant). Over the long term, incidents of bicycle theft are now 40% lower than in 1995.

Criminal damage estimated by the CSEW decreased by 15% in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year, continuing the downward trend seen since 2008/09.

CSEW estimates for robbery and theft from the person were not significantly different from the previous year (the apparent respective 27% and 9% decreases were not statistically significant). However these must be treated with caution and interpreted alongside police recorded crime as short term trends in these CSEW crimes are typically prone to fluctuation due to a small number of victims interviewed in any one year. Further information on these crimes is provided in the relevant sections of this bulletin.

Trends in victim-based crime – Police recorded crime

Figure 2 shows selected police recorded crime offences and focuses on those categories with notable changes in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year.

There was a 1% decrease in victim-based crimes in the year ending September 2014 to 3.1 million offences. To put this volume into context, this is equivalent to 55 recorded offences per 1,000 population (though this should not be read as a victimisation rate as multiple offences could be reported by the same victim) – see Table 3. There were decreases in theft from the person (down 24%), vehicle offences (down 6%), criminal damage and arson (down 4%) and robbery (down 14%). There were increases in violence against the person (up 16%), sexual offences (up 22%) and shoplifting (up 3%).

The 16% increase in violence against the person offences recorded by the police is likely to be driven by improved compliance with the NCRS; the CSEW, for example, showed an 11% decrease over the same period. The volume of crimes (699,832 offences) equates to approximately 12 offences recorded per 1,000 population in the year ending September 2014. The increase in total violence against the person offences was largest in the subcategory violence without injury, which showed an increase of 20% compared with the previous year. The violence with injury subcategory showed a smaller increase of 12% over the same period.

In the year ending September 2014 the police recorded 507 homicides, 47 fewer than in the previous year9. This latest annual count of homicides is at its lowest since 1977 (482 offences). The number of homicides increased from around 300 per year in the early 1960s to over 800 per year in the early years of this century, which was at a faster rate than population growth over that period10. Over the past decade however, the volume of homicides has decreased while the population of England and Wales has continued to grow.

Offences involving firearms have fallen 7% in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year, continuing the falls seen since their peak in 2005/06. The number of offences that involved a knife or sharp instrument fell by 2% over the same period11.

Robberies fell 14% in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year, from 61,843 offences to 53,080 offences. This is equivalent to around 1 offence recorded per 1,000 population and is the lowest level since the introduction of the NCRS in 2002/03 (when 110,271 offences were recorded). With the exception of a notable rise in the number of robberies in 2005/06 and 2006/07, there has been a general downward trend in robbery offences since 2002/03. The overall decrease has been driven by falls in most of the large metropolitan force areas, where robbery offences tend to be concentrated (nearly half of all robbery offences were recorded in London alone). In volume-terms, the most notable drop in robbery offences over the last year was in the Metropolitan Police force area (25%; 8,116 offences).

Sexual offences recorded by the police increased by 22% in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year, to a total of 72,977 across England and Wales, the highest level since the introduction of the NCRS in 2002/03. Within this, the number of offences of rape increased by 31% and the number of other sexual offences increased by 19%. These increases are likely to be due to an improvement in crime recording by the police for these offences and an increase in the willingness of victims to come forward and report these crimes to the police; see the ‘Sexual offences’ section for more information.

While previous releases have showed that the rise in sexual offences was being largely driven by a rise in the number of historical offences, additional analysis of data supplied by around half the forces show recent offences now account for the majority of the increase (78% of the increase was due to offences committed within the last 12 months12).

Total theft offences recorded by the police in the year ending September 2014 showed a 5% decrease compared with the previous year, continuing the year on year decrease seen since 2002/03. The majority of the categories in this offence group (‘Burglary’, ‘Vehicle offences’, ‘Theft from the person’, ‘Bicycle theft’ and ‘All other theft offences’) showed decreases compared with the previous year. The only exception to this was shoplifting, which increased by 3% compared with the previous year (from 313,700 offences to 322,904).

Theft from the person offences recorded by the police in the year ending September 2014 showed a 24% decrease compared with the previous year. This is a reversal of recent trends, which showed year-on-year increases between 2008/09 and 2012/13. This decrease is driven by a large drop in offences from December 2013 onwards, thought to be associated with improved mobile phone security features; see the ‘Theft offences - Other theft of property’ section for more information.

Fraud offences

Responsibility for recording fraud offences has transferred from individual police forces to Action Fraud. This transfer occurred between April 2011 and March 2013. In the year ending September 2014, there were 212,699 fraud offences recorded by Action Fraud in England and Wales13. This represents a volume increase of 5% compared with the previous year and an increase of 194% compared with 2008/09. These reported increases over the past 12 months should be seen in the context of the recent move to centralised recording of fraud. During the transition to Action Fraud, level of recorded fraud showed steady increases. It should be noted that since all forces completed the transfer of recording to Action Fraud (April 2013), the levels of fraud have remained fairly steady (see Table QT1 (227.5 Kb Excel sheet) ).

In addition, there were 391,221 reports of fraud to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau from industry bodies. For more information, see the ‘Fraud’ section.

CSEW data on plastic card fraud show that, for the year ending September 2014 survey, 5.0% of plastic card owners were victims of card fraud in the last year, no change on 4.8% in the year ending September 2013. Before that, there had been small reductions in levels of plastic card fraud over the last few years, following a rise between the 2005/06 and 2008/09 surveys.

Notes for Summary

  1. The survey of children aged 10 to 15 only covers personal level crime (so excludes household level crime) and, as with the adult survey, does not include sexual offences.

  2. The majority (75%) of violent crimes experienced in the year ending September 2014 resulted in minor or no injury, so in most cases the violence is low level.

  3. Police recorded crimes are notifiable offences which are all crimes that could possibly be tried by a jury (these include some less serious offences, such as minor theft that would not usually be dealt with in this way) plus a few additional closely related offences, such as assault without injury.

  4. See the ‘Analysis of Variation in Crime trends’ methodological note and Section 4.2 of the User Guide for more details.

  5. Victim-based crimes are those offences with a specific identifiable victim. These cover the police recorded crime categories of violence against the person, sexual offences, robbery, theft offences, and criminal damage and arson.

  6. ‘Other crimes against society’ cover offences without a direct victim, and includes drug offences, possession of weapon offences, public order offences and miscellaneous crimes against society.

  7. Non-notifiable offences are offences dealt with exclusively by magistrates' courts or by the police issuing of a Penalty Notice for Disorder or a Fixed Penalty Notice. Along with non-notifiable offences dealt with by the police (such as speeding), these include many offences that may be dealt with by other agencies – for example: prosecutions by TV Licensing; or by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) for vehicle registration offences.

  8. This is a premises based survey in which respondents were asked if the business at their current premises had experienced any of a range of crime types in the 12 months prior to interview and, if so, how many incidents of crime had been experienced.

  9. Homicide includes the offences of murder, manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and infanticide. Figures from the Homicide Index for the time period April 2012 to March 2013, which take account of further police investigations and court outcomes, were published in the ‘Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/13’ release on 13 February 2014. Data for the period April 2013 to March 2014 will be published in the 2013/14 version due to be released on 12 February 2015.

  10. Figures from the Homicide Index are less likely to be affected by changes in police recording practices made in 1998 and 2002 so it is possible to examine longer-term trends.

  11. Only selected violent offences can be broken down by whether a knife or sharp instrument was used. These are: homicide; attempted murder; threats to kill; assault with injury and assault with intent to cause serious harm; robbery; rape; and sexual assault.

  12. The standard recorded crime collection does not provide information on the date when the offence occurred and this analysis is based on just over half of the 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales that provided additional information on sexual offences to the Home Office Data Hub.

  13. Action Fraud had taken over the recording of all fraud offences from police forces by the end of 2012/13, but showed a -6 count of fraud offences in the year ending September 2014. This is a consequence of the transition process, and these cases have subsequently been removed from the police recorded data and transferred to Action Fraud.

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5. Violent crime

Violent crime in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) is referred to as “Violence”, and includes wounding and assault. There are additional breakdowns for violence with and without injury, as well as on the offender-victim relationship. Violent crime in police recorded data is referred to as “Violence against the person” and includes homicide, violence with injury, and violence without injury. Violent offences that have no identifiable victim are classified as other offences, such as public disorder. The underlying trend from the survey clearly indicates that violent crime is falling, although, as with the 11% decrease in the year ending September 2014, year on year decreases have not always been statistically significant (Figure 3).

Latest CSEW estimates show there were 1.3 million violent incidents in England and Wales (Figure 3). Violent incidents comprised 19% of all CSEW crime, making them an important driver of overall trends.

With regard to the latest estimate, the number of violent incidents has decreased 66% from the peak of violent crime in 1995 (Table 4b). To put these figures in context, around 2 in every 100 adults were a victim of violent crime in the last year based on the year ending September 2014 survey, compared with around 5 in 100 adults in the 1995 survey (Table 4a). However, it is important to note that victimisation rates vary considerably across the population and by geographic area. Such variations in victimisation rates are further explored in ONS thematic reports, which are published annually1.

The longer term reduction in violent crime as shown by the CSEW is supported by evidence from several health data sources, for example, research conducted by the Violence and Society Research Group at Cardiff University (Sivarajasingam et al., 2014). Findings from their annual survey, covering a sample of hospital emergency departments and walk-in centres in England and Wales, showed an overall decrease of 12% in serious violence-related attendances in 2013 compared with 2012. In addition, the most recent provisional National Health Service (NHS) data on assault admissions to hospitals in England show that for the 12 months to the end of March 2014 there were 31,243 hospital admissions for assault, a reduction of 5% compared with figures for the preceding 12 months2.

The CSEW violence offences can be broken down further into ‘Violence with injury’ and ‘Violence without injury’. The subcategory of ‘Violence with injury’ shows a substantial decrease of 26% in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year, driving the overall decrease in all violence; it is the lowest estimate since the survey began. The apparent increase of 7% in ‘Violence without injury’ was not statistically significant.

Estimates of violence against 10 to 15 year olds as measured by the CSEW can be found in the section ‘Crime experienced by children aged 10 to 15’.

The overall level of violence against the person recorded by the police in the year ending September 2014 showed a 16% increase compared with the previous year (Tables 5a and 5b), with 40 of the 43 forces reporting rises. The largest volume increase was reported by the Metropolitan Police Service (an additional 23,218 offences).

It is known that violent offences are more prone to subjective judgement about whether to record a crime. The ‘Crime-recording: making the victim count’ report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found that violence against the person offences had the highest under-recording rates across police forces in England and Wales. Nationally, an estimated one of three (33%) violent offences that should have been recorded as crimes were not. Therefore, action taken by police forces to generally improve their compliance with the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) given the renewed focus on the accuracy of crime recording by the police – over the period December 2013 to August 2014 when the inspections took place – is likely to have resulted in the increase in the number of offences recorded in contrast with the comparator year (October 2012 to September 2013). Evidence from the Metropolitan Police Service3 supports this point, which shows an increase in the number of reports of violence being recorded as crimes. See the ‘Accuracy of the statistics’ section for more information.

Another factor behind the rise is the increase in the reporting of domestic abuse and subsequent recording of these offences by the police. An HMIC inspection expressed concerns about the police response to domestic abuse but noted the majority of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) were now showing a strong commitment to tackling it. The report noted just under half of PCCs had made a commitment to increase the reporting of this type of offence. It is thought that this renewed focus may have led to more victims coming forward and allegations treated more sensitively.

The latest rise in violence against the person recorded by the police is in contrast to the falls shown by the Crime Survey and figures on attendances at Accident and Emergency departments due to violent assaults, cited previously. This supports the view that the apparent rise in violence against the person offences recorded by the police reflects changes in recording practices, rather than levels of crime.

Compared with 2008/09, the volume of violence against the person offences recorded by the police has fallen by 1%. The rates for violence against the person have dropped from 13 recorded offences per 1,000 population in 2008/09 to 12 recorded offences per 1,000 population in the year ending September 2014 (Table 5a).

In contrast to other violent crime, there is unlikely to be under-recording of homicides by the police. In the year ending September 2014 the police recorded 507 homicides, 47 fewer homicides than in the previous year (Table 5a)4. This latest annual count of homicides is at its lowest since 1977 (482 offences). Historically, the number of homicides increased from around 300 per year in the early 1960s to over 800 per year in the early years of this century5, and this had increased at a faster rate than population growth. Since then however, the number of homicides recorded each year has continued to fall to the current level, while the population of England and Wales has continued to grow. In 2003/04, there were 17 homicides per million population6; since then homicide rates have reduced by almost half, with 9 homicides per million population recorded during the year to September 2014.

As with homicide, the other two categories of police recorded offences for violence against the person have also declined over the past decade. However, in the latest data ‘Violence with injury’ showed a 12% rise, compared with the previous year, and ‘Violence without injury’ increased by 20% over the same period. Within violence with injury, the police recorded a rise in the category of causing death by dangerous driving; this rose from 236 in the year ending September 2013 to 319 offences in the current year. For more detailed information on trends and the circumstances of violence against the person, see ‘Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/13’; the 2013/14 release is due to be published on 12 February 2015.

Harassment is included within the violence against the person category and in the year ending September 2014 the police recorded 69,404 such offences. From 1st April 2014, stalking, which previously would generally have been recorded within harassment, was separated into its own crime classification following the introduction of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. In the year ending September 2014, for the six months that stalking has been a separate offence category, the police recorded 1,682 such offences. As this newly separated stalking offence only contains two quarter’s worth of data (offences recorded between 1st April and 30th September 2014) it is likely that there will be rises in future releases as more quarters are included. Because these offences would have previously been recorded within (but not separately identifiable in) the harassment category, this should be borne in mind when looking at trends in harassment ( Appendix table A4 (515 Kb Excel sheet) ).

Notes for Violent crime

  1. For more information on violent crime see ‘Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/13’; the 2013/14 version is due to be released on 12 February 2015.

  2. Based on the latest National Health Service (NHS) Hospital Episode Statistics and hospital admissions due to assault (dated 15 July 2014). These do not include figures for Wales and relate to activity in English NHS hospitals.

  3. In evidence given by the Metropolitan Police Service to the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee on 13 November 2014 it was reported that the proportion of incidents of violence that were converted into recorded crimes rose from 40% to 75% between 2012 and 2014.

  4. Homicide includes the offences of murder, manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and infanticide.

  5. Figures from the Homicide Index are less likely to be affected by changes to in police recording practice made in 1998 and 2002 so it is possible to examine longer-term trends.

  6. While most rates of recorded crime are given per 1,000 population, due to the relatively low number of offences recorded, and to aid interpretation, homicide rates are given per million population.

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6. Robbery

Robbery is an offence in which force or the threat of force is used either during or immediately prior to a theft or attempted theft.

The ‘Crime-recording: making the victim count’ report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found that nationally, an estimated 14% of robbery offences that should have been recorded as crimes were not; this level of under-recording is below the national average of 19%. See the ‘Accuracy of the statistics’ section for more information.

Although not all robberies will be reported to the police, owing to the small number of robbery victims interviewed in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), the number of robberies recorded by the police provides a more robust indication of trends.

Robbery is a relatively low volume offence accounting for less than 2% of all police recorded crime in the year ending September 2014. These offences are concentrated in a small number of metropolitan forces with nearly half (45%) of all offences recorded in London, and a further 20% in the Greater Manchester, West Midlands and West Yorkshire police force areas combined ( Table P1 (155 Kb Excel sheet) ).

The latest figures show police recorded robberies decreased by 14% in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year (Tables 6a and 6b). With the exception of a notable rise in the number of robberies in 2005/06 and 2006/07 there has been a general downward trend since 2002/03 in England and Wales. The latest figure shows the number of robbery offences falling to 53,080, the lowest level since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in 2002/03 (Figure 4).

In the year ending September 2014, 89% of robberies recorded by the police were of personal property. The police recorded 47,302 of these offences, down 15% compared with the previous year. Robbery of business property (which makes up the remaining 11% of total robbery offences) fell by 4% compared with the previous year continuing the recent downward trend. In the year ending September 2014, around one in five robberies (20%) recorded by the police involved a knife or other sharp instrument, the same level as recorded in the previous year (Table 9b).

The geographic concentration of robbery offences means that trends across England and Wales tend to reflect what is happening in a small number of metropolitan areas where robbery offences are concentrated, in particular the Metropolitan Police force area. The latest figures for the Metropolitan Police force area show that the number of robberies for the year ending September 2014 was 23,876, a decrease of 25% from the previous year ( Tables P1-P2 (155 Kb Excel sheet) ). This continues the downward trend first identified in the year ending March 2013 (11% fall), following increases in the three preceding years. Falls in robbery offences were also seen in other large metropolitan police force areas ( Table P2 (155 Kb Excel sheet) ), most notably West Yorkshire (down by 10% to 1,756 offences), as well as a smaller fall in the West Midlands (down by 5% to 5,132 offences).

The small number of robbery victims interviewed in any one year means that CSEW estimates have large confidence intervals and are prone to fluctuation. Thus, while the level of incidents in the year ending September 2014 survey appeared to be 27% lower compared with the previous year, this reduction was not statistically significant. However, the current volume is less than half (62% lower) that of the level seen in the 1995 overall crime peak (Tables 7a and 7b).

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7. Sexual offences

It is difficult to obtain reliable information on the volume of sexual offences as it is known1 that a high proportion of offences are not reported to the police and changes in recorded figures may reflect changes in reporting or recording rates rather than actual victimisation. For these reasons, caution should be used when interpreting trends in these offences (for more information see ‘An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales’ or ‘Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/13’).

Police recorded crime figures showed an increase of 22% in all sexual offences for the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year (up from 59,608 to 72,977; Table 8a). This is the highest ever level recorded since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in April 2002. Increases in offences against both adults and children have contributed to this rise. The largest percentage increases by force area were experienced in Durham2 and South Yorkshire (both up by 72%; Table P2).

Police recorded rape increased by 31% (to 24,043 offences) compared with the previous year following previous increases over the past five years, and is now also at the highest level since the NCRS was introduced in 2002/03; other sexual offences increased by 19% (48,934 offences). The latest rises in total sexual offences, rape and other sexual offences are the largest year on year increases since the introduction of the NCRS in 2002/03.

There are likely to be two main factors in the rise in police recorded rape and sexual offences; an improvement in crime recording by the police for these offences and an increase in the willingness of victims to come forward and report these crimes to the police.

The rises in the volume of sexual offences recorded by the police should be seen in the context of a number of high-profile reports and inquiries, including:

  • The investigation by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI)3 in 2012, which highlighted the need to improve the recording and investigation of sexual offences.
  • There have been concerns about the recording of sexual offences, for example in evidence presented to the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) inquiry4 and arising from other high profile cases. This is likely to have resulted in police forces reviewing and improving their recording processes.
  • The creation of the ‘Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse’, which was set up to consider whether, and the extent to which, public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales.
  • The Crime-recording: making the victim count’ report published by HMIC found that sexual offences had been substantially under-recorded by police forces in England and Wales. Nationally, an estimated one of four (26%) sexual offences that should have been recorded as crimes were not. Therefore, action taken by police forces to generally improve their compliance with the NCRS given the renewed focus on the accuracy of crime recording, is likely to have resulted in an increase in the number of offences recorded. See the ‘Accuracy of the statistics’ section for more information.

The increase in people coming forward to report sexual offences is likely to be due to a wider ‘Operation Yewtree’ effect, where victims of sexual offences that are not directly connected to Yewtree are now reporting these offences to the police. Further insight into the wider ‘Yewtree effect’ can be provided by looking at the Home Office Data Hub, a record level dataset of police recorded offences5. Previous releases have shown historical offences were a large contributor to the increase in sexual offences. However, historical offences are now making a substantially smaller contribution to the overall rise, while the contribution made by recent or ‘current’ offences has increased6. The forces for which data are available show that the majority of the increase in sexual offences was due to an increase in offences that occurred within the previous 12 months (78%).

Crime survey for England and Wales

Due to the small number of sexual offences identified in the main Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) crime count, estimates of the volume of incidents are too unreliable to report. Since 2004/05, the CSEW has included a self-completion questionnaire module on intimate violence which does provide a measure of the proportion of people who have been victims of sexual offences and supplements the information presented here7. Detailed findings from this module for 2012/13 are available in ‘Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/13’, with analysis for 2013/14 due to be published on 12 February 2015.

Notes for Sexual offences

  1. As frequently indicated in the findings from the CSEW self-completion module on intimate violence, for example, presented in Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/13.

  2. This rise is acknowledged to be due to the recording of large numbers of historical offences, particularly in relation to the Medomsley Detention Centre. It is believed over 200 inmates were physically or sexually abused during their time at the detention centre, between the late 1960s and mid-1980s. See Durham Constabulary for further information.

  3. See HMIC and HMCPSI, 2012 for further information.

  4. See the Commission of an independent review into rape investigation and the transcript for the Public Administration Select Committee hearing on Crime Statistics, 19 November 2013.

  5. The Home Office Data Hub includes additional information provided by police forces, such as when an offence took place, as well as when it was recorded by the police.

  6. Based on analysis of just over half of the 43 territorial police forces of England and Wales.

  7. See Chapter 5 of the User Guide for more information regarding intimate violence.

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8. Offences involving knives and sharp instruments

Some of the more serious types of offence in the recorded crime data (violent, robbery and sexual offences) can be broken down by whether or not a knife or sharp instrument was involved1,2.

In the year ending September 2014, the police recorded 25,721 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument, 2% fewer than in the previous year (26,236, Table 9a). Of the offence groups where data are collected, there were increases in most offence groups, in particular assault with injury and assault with intent to cause serious harm (up 7%). These increases, however, were offset by a reduction in robbery offences involving the use of a knife or sharp instrument (down 14% compared with the previous year3).

The relatively low number of certain offences, such as rape and sexual assault, that involve the use of a knife or sharp instrument means the volume of these offences are subject to apparent large percentage changes, and should be interpreted with caution. The number of rapes involving knives or sharp instruments recorded by the police increased by 18% (to 273 offences in the year ending September 2014 from 231 in the previous year) and the number of sexual assaults increased by 37% (to 122 offences in the year ending September 2014 from 89 in the previous year).

Between 2010/11 (the earliest period for which data are directly comparable) and 2012/13, across all offence groups where it is possible to identify whether a knife or sharp instrument was used, the numbers of offences recorded by the police have shown reductions. Following on from 2012/13, to the year ending September 2014, with the exceptions of homicide and robbery offences, there have been increases in the numbers of offences where it is possible to identify whether a knife or sharp instrument was used recorded by the police. However, for the latest time period, due to the large decrease in numbers of robbery offences involving a knife or sharp instrument recorded by the police in comparison to other offence groups, the total number of offences has fallen by 2%.

Of the selected violent offences covered in Table 9b, around 6% involved a knife or sharp instrument in the year ending September 2014; this was the same proportion as that seen in the previous year. Over a third of homicides (39%) and just under a half of attempted murders (48%) involved a knife or sharp instrument, similar to twelve months ago (35% and 48% respectively).

Between 2010/11 and the year ending September 2014, the proportion of offences involving a knife or sharp instrument recorded by the police has remained relatively flat across all offence groups.

Further analysis on offences involving knives and sharp instruments recorded in 2012/13 has been published in ‘Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/13’, with analysis for 2013/14 due to be published on 12 February 2015.

An additional source of information about incidents involving knives and sharp instruments is provided by provisional National Health Service (NHS) hospital admission statistics4. Admissions for assault with a sharp instrument peaked at 5,720 in 2006/07. Admissions have declined since that year, and in the year ending March 2014 there were 3,654 admissions, a 5% decrease on the previous year. Admissions for assault with a sharp instrument in 2013/14 were the lowest since 2002/035.

Notes for offences involving knives and sharp instruments

  1. A sharp instrument is any object that pierces the skin (or in the case of a threat, is capable of piercing the skin), for example a broken bottle.

  2. Until April 2010, West Midlands Police force included unbroken bottle and glass offences in their statistics, but now exclude these offences in line with other forces.

  3. Changes to offence codes in April 2012 mean the individual categories of actual bodily harm and grievous bodily harm are not directly comparable over the time period. However, these changes are not expected to affect the totals of actual bodily harm and grievous bodily harm offences involving a knife or sharp instrument. See Appendix table A4 (515 Kb Excel sheet) for more details.

  4. It should be noted that while it is a requirement to record every hospital admission, completing the field for external cause is not always done. They also do not include any figures from Wales.

  5. Based on the latest National Health Service (NHS) Hospital Episode Statistics and hospital admissions due to assault (dated 15 July 2014). These do not include figures for Wales and relate to activity in English NHS hospitals. A graph based on financial years is available in the latest ‘Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences’ release.

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9. Offences involving firearms

Similar to the breakdown of offences involving knives or sharp instruments, statistics for the year ending September 2014 are available for police recorded crimes involving the use of firearms other than air weapons. Firearms are taken to be involved in an offence if they are fired, used as a blunt instrument against a person, or used as a threat. For detailed information on trends and the circumstances of offences involving firearms, including air weapons, recorded in 2012/13 see ‘Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/13’, with analysis for 2013/14 due to be published on 12 February 2015.

Figures for the year ending September 2014 show 4,740 offences involving firearms were recorded in England and Wales, a 7% decrease compared with the previous year (5,102, Tables 10a and 10b).

Figure 6 shows the trend from 2002/03 and demonstrates that since 2005/06 there has been a substantial decrease in the number of offences involving firearms recorded by the police. The volume of such offences has fallen by 42% since 2008/09 (Table 10b). This reduction in offences involving firearms is, in percentage terms, a larger reduction than that seen in overall violent crime.

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10. Theft offences

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and police recorded crime both measure various theft offences. Both series cover the headline categories of domestic burglary, vehicle-related theft, theft from the person, and bicycle theft. Theft of property from outside people’s homes (for example, garden furniture and tools) and theft of unattended property as measured by the CSEW are incorporated within the police recorded crime category ‘Other theft’. Additionally, shoplifting offences, which are not included in the CSEW, are recorded by the police1.

There are substantial overlaps between theft offences in the two data series; however, the CSEW shows a larger volume as it includes incidents not reported to the police. Police recorded theft is broader, covering a wider variety of offences and victims; for example, police recorded theft includes theft against commercial victims and offences of handling stolen goods whereas the survey does not. Theft offences recorded by the police and the CSEW do not include robbery as these are presented as a separate offence (see the ‘Robbery’ section).

Incidents of theft experienced by 10 to 15 year olds can be found in the ‘Crime experienced by children aged 10 to 15’ section of this bulletin.

Total theft offences (acquisitive crime) accounted for 60% of all incidents estimated by the CSEW (an estimated 4.2 million incidents) and almost half (48%) of all police recorded crime (1.8 million offences) in the year ending September 2014.

The long-term trend in CSEW theft reflects the long-term trend in total CSEW crime. Latest estimates point to a further decline, with total theft offences decreasing by 9% from the previous year (from 4.6 million to 4.2 million incidents, which is the lowest number recorded since the survey began in 1981) ( Appendix table A1 (515 Kb Excel sheet) ).

Since 2002/03, the number of police recorded theft offences has shown year on year decreases and is 45% lower in the year ending September 2014 than in 2003/04 (Figure 7). The latest figures show a 5% decrease compared with the previous year ( Appendix table A4 (515 Kb Excel sheet) ). As theft offences make up almost half of all police recorded crime, it is an important driver of the overall trend. However, this decrease has been offset by increases in other offences which have resulted in no change in overall police recorded crime compared with the previous year.

Further analysis on theft offences, based on the 2013/14 CSEW, was published on 27 November 2014 as part of ‘Focus on: Property Crime, 2013/14’. More detail regarding possible hypotheses for the fall in property crimes can be found in ‘Trends in Crime: a Short Story, 2011/12’ published on 19 July 2012.

The next few sections discuss the different types of theft offences in more detail: burglary, vehicle-related thefts and other theft of property.

Notes for theft offences

  1. For more information see Section 5.2 of the User Guide.
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11. Theft offences – burglary

The CSEW for the year ending September 2014 estimated 789,000 incidents of domestic burglary, little change compared with the previous year, as the apparent 8% decrease was not statistically significant (Tables 11a and 11b). CSEW domestic burglary follows a similar pattern to that seen for overall crime, and despite some fluctuations the trend has remained fairly flat between 2004/05 and 2010/11 (Figure 8). Estimates for the year ending September 2014 are 40% lower than those in 2003/04 and 67% lower than those in the 1995 survey.

The reduction is reflected in the percentage of households that had been victims of domestic burglary in the last year, with around 3 in 100 households being victims in the year ending September 2014 survey compared with around 9 in 100 households in the 1995 survey. Therefore, households are now around three times less likely to be a victim of burglary than in 1995 (Tables 11a and 11b). It is widely accepted that improvements to home security has been an important factor in the reduction seen in domestic burglary offences; other potential factors are discussed in the ‘Existing theories on why property crime has fallen’ section of the Focus on: Property Crime, 2013/14.

Over time, the sub-categories of CSEW ‘Domestic burglary in a dwelling’ and ‘Domestic burglary in a non-connected building to a dwelling’ have followed similar patterns to that of domestic burglary overall. Latest figures show no change in ‘Domestic burglary in a non-connected building to a dwelling’ in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year. The apparent 11% decrease in ‘Domestic burglary in a dwelling’ over the same period was not statistically significant.

The ‘Crime-recording: making the victim count’ report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found that nationally, an estimated 11% of burglary offences that should have been recorded as crimes were not; this level of under-recording is below the national average of 19%. See the ‘Accuracy of the statistics’ section for more information.

The police recorded crime statistics measure both domestic burglaries (for example those against inhabited dwellings) and non-domestic burglaries (for example, those against businesses)1. When compared with the previous year, domestic burglary decreased by 8% (from 222,299 to 204,136 offences) while non-domestic burglary decreased by 4% (from 231,156 to 222,187 offences) in the year ending September 2014 (Tables 12a and 12b). The latest level of burglary recorded by the police is around half the level recorded in 2003/04 (48% lower).

Notes for theft offences – burglary

  1. Non-domestic burglary covers burglary in a building other than a dwelling, and includes burglaries of sheds and outhouses which do not have an entrance to the home. See Section 5.2 of the User Guide for more details regarding this crime type.
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12. Theft offences – vehicle

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) covers offences against vehicles owned by any member of the household interviewed (including company cars). Estimates of CSEW vehicle-related theft for the year ending September 2014 fell by 15% compared with the previous year (Table 13a and 13b)1.

Over the longer term, the CSEW indicates a consistent downward trend in levels of vehicle-related theft, with the latest estimates being 79% lower than in 1995. As shown in Figure 9, the rate of reduction in vehicle offences since the mid-1990s has been striking. It is widely accepted that improvements to vehicle security has been an important factor in the reduction seen in vehicle offences; other potential factors are discussed in the ‘Existing theories on why property crime has fallen’ section of the Focus on: Property Crime, 2013/14.

The latest estimates indicate that a vehicle-owning household was around five times less likely to become a victim of vehicle-related theft in the year ending September 2014 survey than in 1995, with around 4 in 100 vehicle-owning households being victims in the year ending September 2014 survey compared with around 20 in 100 households in the 1995 survey (Table 13a). There were an estimated 878,000 vehicle-related thefts in the year ending September 2014, which is the lowest number recorded since the survey began in 1981.

The police recorded crime category of vehicle offences covers both private and commercial vehicles and shows a fall of 6% in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year (Tables 14a and 14b). This follows substantial decreases in this offence group, with a fall of 64% compared with 2003/04, similar to the trend found in the CSEW. The most recent data show that two of the three categories of police recorded vehicle offences have continued to fall, including theft of a motor vehicle, which fell by 3% in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year (Table 14b).

The reductions in vehicle-related theft indicated by the CSEW and police recorded crime are in contrast to the number of motor vehicles licensed in Great Britain, which has increased by 38%, from 25.4 million at the end of 1995 to 35.0 million at the end of 2013 (Vehicle Licensing Statistics, 2013)2.

Notes for theft offences – vehicle

  1. See Section 5.2 of the User Guide for more details regarding this crime type.

  2. Based on the total number of licensed vehicles (including both private and commercial vehicles) in England, Scotland and Wales taken from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) database.

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13. Theft offences – other theft of property

In addition to burglary and vehicle-related thefts, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and police recorded crime both measure other theft of property, although they cover slightly different offences. In the CSEW this comprises: theft from the person; other theft of personal property; bicycle theft; and other household theft. In police recorded crime there are categories for: theft from the person; bicycle theft; shoplifting; and all other theft offences. The coverage of these offences are described in the sections below. There are further offence breakdowns available for all other theft offences listed in Appendix table A4 (515 Kb Excel sheet) .

Theft from the person – CSEW and police recorded crime

Theft from the person involves offences where there is theft of property, while the property is being carried by, or on the person of, the victim. These include snatch thefts (where an element of force may be used to snatch the property away) and stealth thefts (where the victim is unaware of the offence being committed, for example, pick-pocketing). Unlike robbery, these offences do not involve violence or threats to the victim.

In the CSEW, the majority of incidents of theft from the person are made up of stealth thefts (260,000 out of all 504,000 (52%) theft from the person offences in the year ending September 2014, for more information see Appendix table A1 (515 Kb Excel sheet) ). Numbers of snatch thefts are much smaller, accounting for 13% of all theft from the person offences, while attempted snatch and stealth thefts make up the remaining 36%.

The apparent 9% decrease in theft from the person based on interviews in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year was not statistically significant (Tables 15a and 15b). Estimates of the volume of theft from the person offences are low and subject to fluctuations from year to year in the survey. The CSEW shows an unusually high estimate measured by the 2008/09 survey when there was a significant increase, followed by a significant decrease in 2009/10 (Figure 10). Other than this, CSEW estimates of theft from the person have remained fairly flat.

The police recorded crime category theft from the person accounts for around 2% of overall police recorded crime. Latest figures showed a 24% decrease in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year (Tables 16a and 16b). This is in contrast to recent trends, where these offences have been increasing in each of the last three years, thought to be driven by theft of smartphones. The latest decrease is driven by a large fall in theft from the person offences in the latter three quarters – January to September 2014. This may in part be explained by improvements to mobile security and theft prevention1.

Further analysis of theft from the person figures by police force area shows a mixed picture, with some forces continuing to show increases while most show decreases. However, as with robbery, theft from the person offences are concentrated in the metropolitan areas, with 40% occurring in the Metropolitan Police force area alone in the year ending September 2014. The previous overall increases were largely driven by what was happening in London, where theft of smartphones and other portable devices were thought to be behind some of this rise2. The latest figures for the Metropolitan Police force area show a decrease of 32% compared with the previous year ( Table P2 (155 Kb Excel sheet) ). In addition, the British Transport Police, who cover crimes that occur on railways and on railway platforms and stations, account for 7% of the total thefts from the person offences in the year ending September 2014, and show a 36% decrease compared with the previous year.

Other household theft – CSEW

This offence group consists of items stolen from outside the victim’s home, and thefts in the victim’s dwelling by someone entitled to be there, for example a tradesperson3. Overall, the year ending September 2014 survey estimated that there were 777,000 incidents of other household theft (Tables 15a and 15b), making up 11% of all CSEW crime.

The CSEW showed a 9% fall in other household theft based on interviews in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year. This statistically significant decrease sees estimated levels of other household theft at similar levels to those seen in the 2007/08 survey following a period of year on year increases between 2007/08 and 2011/12. The current decrease, combined with decreases seen between 1995 and 2007/08, means that the latest figure is now 50% lower than in the 1995 survey (Figure 10).

The large majority of other household thefts are accounted for by theft from outside a dwelling (92%). Generally these incidents involve theft of garden furniture or household items/furniture taken from outside people’s homes4, and are largely opportunistic in nature. Theft from a dwelling has seen a much greater fall, compared with the previous year, than theft from outside a dwelling (29% and 7% respectively), although neither of these decreases are statistically significant. The latest estimate for theft from a dwelling is 70% lower than the 1995 survey estimate ( Appendix table A1 (515 Kb Excel sheet) ).

Other theft of personal property – CSEW

Other theft of personal property offences are those which involve items stolen from victims while away from the home but not being carried on the person (such as theft of unattended property in pubs, restaurants, entertainment venues or workplaces). The CSEW estimates that there were around 848,000 incidents of other theft of personal property in the survey year ending September 2014. The apparent 9% decrease compared with the previous survey year was not statistically significant (Table 15b). The underlying trend has been fairly flat in recent years – between 2004/05 and 2013/14 estimates have fluctuated slightly but generally stayed around 1.0 million offences. Looking at the longer term trend, other theft of personal property saw marked declines from the mid-1990s and the current estimate is under half the level seen in the 1995 survey (59% lower).

Bicycle theft – CSEW and police recorded crime

There was no change in the level of bicycle theft with the apparent 1% increase not being statistically significant (Tables 15a and 15b). This is one of the lower volume CSEW offence groups and can show large fluctuations from year to year. Appendix table A1 (515 Kb Excel sheet) shows that, like other household theft, these incidents showed a marked decline between 1995 and the 1999 survey, with both small increases and decreases thereafter. The variability means that emerging trends have to be interpreted with caution. The year ending September 2014 CSEW indicates that around 3% of bicycle owning households were victims of bicycle theft in the previous 12 months, down from 6% in the 1995 survey.

Bicycle thefts recorded by the police showed a small decrease of 3% in the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year (Tables 16a and 16b), remaining at a similar level seen since 2011/12, following the large increase seen in this year compared with 2010/11. The current level (94,446 offences) is the lowest since the NCRS was first introduced in 2002/03.

Shoplifting – police recorded crime

Shoplifting accounted for 9% of all police recorded crime in the year ending September 2014. The police recorded 322,904 shoplifting offences in this period, a 3% increase compared with the previous year. The volume of shoplifting recorded was the highest since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standards (NCRS) in 2002/03. The longer term trend in shoplifting recorded by the police is different from that seen for other theft offences. While most theft offences saw steady declines over much of the last decade, levels of recorded shoplifting showed comparatively little change over this time.

Across England and Wales there were 9,204 more shoplifting offences in the year ending September 2014 when compared with the previous year. Twenty-three of the 43 territorial police force areas reported an increase in shoplifting in the year ending September 2014 ( Table P2 (155 Kb Excel sheet) ). Several forces recorded large percentage increases, including Durham (24%) and Derbyshire (18%). The Metropolitan Police force area recorded a comparatively small percentage increase of 6%.

The low rate of reporting to the police presents challenges in interpreting trends in police recorded shoplifting. There are a number of factors that should be considered, including:

  • A real increase in the number of shoplifting offences being committed5. Findings from the recent surveys of the retail sector have been mixed. The 2013 CVS showed no statistically significant change in the estimated level of shoplifting compared with the 2012 survey, while a British Retail Consortium (BRC) survey indicated that their members were experiencing higher levels of shoplifting.

  • An increase in reporting, whereby retailers may adopt new strategies or approaches to deal with shoplifters (such as one announced by the Cooperative supermarket chain6), which in turn means the police record more shoplifting offences.

  • Changes to police recording practices - while there is no specific evidence to suggest there has been a recent change in the recording of shoplifting offences, it is not possible to rule this out. Shoplifting is less likely than other types of offence to be affected by changes in police recording practices.

The 2013 Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS) provides a measure of shoplifting (referred to in the survey as ‘theft by customers’) which includes crimes not reported to the police. The 2013 survey estimated that there were 3.3 million incidents of theft by customers in the wholesale and retail sector; this is over ten times the number of shoplifting offences recorded by the police. This reflects the fact that most incidents of shoplifting do not come to the attention of the police. As such, recorded crime figures for this type of offence are highly dependent on whether the businesses report the incidents to the police.

All other theft offences – police recorded crime

The remainder of police recorded theft offences fall into the category ’All other theft offences‘, which include offences such as blackmail, theft by an employee, and ‘Making off without payment’ (for example, driving away from a petrol station without paying). Within this overall category, there is also an ‘Other theft’ offence sub-category, which comprises mostly of the theft of unattended items (including both personal property such as wallets or phones, and property from outside peoples’ homes, such as garden furniture). ‘Other theft’ accounts for three-quarters (74%) of the overall ’All other theft offences‘ category ( Appendix table A4 (515 Kb Excel sheet) ).

The most recent police recorded data showed a 6% decrease in all other theft offences, with 499,661 offences in the year ending September 2014 compared with 529,298 offences in the previous year. This decrease is in contrast with a recent upward trend in all other theft offences between 2009/10 and 2011/12 ( Appendix table A4 (515 Kb Excel sheet) ), following a longer downward trend between 2003/04 and 2009/10 (Figure 11).

In the year ending September 2014 the police recorded 56,958 making off without payment offences, which was a 13% increase compared with the previous year. Previously there had been a steep decline in this particular offence, with the latest numbers 57% lower than those in 2003/04 (132,624 offences) ( Appendix table A4 (515 Kb Excel sheet) ).

As well as theft of unattended items, the police recorded ‘Other theft’ subcategory also includes crimes against organisations which are not covered by the CSEW, such as theft of metal or industrial equipment from strategic infrastructure. ‘Other theft’ offences saw a 9% decrease for the year ending September 2014 compared with the previous year ( Appendix table A4 (515 Kb Excel sheet) ). This follows a 13% increase between 2009/10 and 2011/12. This is likely to have been caused in part by a surge in metal theft over this period, which corresponds with a spike in metal prices. Evidence suggests that such offences are decreasing and should be seen in the context of new metal theft legislation. The legislation came into force in May 2013, which increased fines for existing offences under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964, and introduced a new offence for dealers of paying for scrap metal in cash. For further information on metal theft, see the Home Office publication Metal theft, England and Wales, financial year ending March 2013 and Chapter 2 of Focus on: Property Crime, 2013/14.

Notes for theft offences – other theft of property

  1. For more information, see the Home Office report 'Reducing mobile phone theft and improving security'

  2. Based on figures provided by the Metropolitan Police in relation to a freedom of information (FOI) request reported by London Evening Standard – 4 April 2013

  3. For more details on the offences that constitute CSEW other household theft see Section 5.2 and Appendix 2 of the User Guide

  4. For more details, see the Nature of Crime tables in ‘Focus on: Property Crime, 2013/14

  5. For example, as reported in The Guardian, 23th January 2014

  6. As reported in the Nottingham Post, 18th December 2013

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14. Criminal damage

Based on Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) interviews in the year ending September 2014, there were around 1.4 million incidents of criminal damage of personal and household property; this was a decrease of 15% from the previous year (Tables 17a and 17b). Figure 12 shows the long-term trend for criminal damage, which has followed a slightly different pattern compared with most other CSEW crime groups. Criminal damage peaked in 1993 with 3.4 million incidents followed by a series of modest falls (when compared with other CSEW offence types) until the 2003/04 survey (2.4 million offences). There was then a short upward trend until the 2006/07 CSEW (2.9 million offences), after which there were falls to its current level, the lowest since the survey began.

Tables 17a and 17b highlight the recent downward trend in this offence group. There are statistically significant decreases when comparing the current figure with those from one, five and ten years ago. This trend is also reflected in the decline in percentage of households victimised. Around 4 in every 100 households were victims of criminal damage in the year ending September 2014 compared with around 10 in every 100 households in 1995.

The ‘Crime-recording: making the victim count’ report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found that nationally, an estimated 14% of criminal damage and arson offences that should have been recorded as crimes were not; this level of under-recording is below the national average of 19%. See the ‘Accuracy of the statistics’ section for more information.

Police recorded crime also shows reductions in the similar offence group of criminal damage and arson (although this also includes victims beyond the household population, like businesses) . In the year ending September 2014 there were 497,466 offences recorded, a fall of 4% from the previous year (Tables 18a and 18b). Reductions were seen across all types of criminal damage recorded by the police ( Appendix table A4 (515 Kb Excel sheet) ). Criminal damage and arson offences have seen a marked fall since 2006/07 whereas previously the pattern had been fairly flat since 2002/03; this follows a similar trend to the CSEW.

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15. Other crimes against society

Other crimes against society are offences recorded by the police which do not generally have a specific identifiable victim. They make up around 11% of all police recorded crime. Trends in such offences tend to reflect changes in police workload and activity rather than in levels of criminality.

The group of offences is made of the following categories:

  • Drug offences;

  • Possession of weapons offences;

  • Public order offences; and

  • Miscellaneous crimes against society.

Other crimes against society showed an increase of 1% compared with the previous year, with 399,469 offences recorded in the year ending September 2014 (Tables 19a and 19b). Figure 13 shows the trend over time and how each separate offence category contributes to the overall total.

Since 2003/04, the number of other crimes against society increased year on year until it peaked in 2007/08 (542,656 offences). The marked increases in the recording of these offences between 2004/05 and 2007/08 coincide with the priority placed on increasing the numbers of offences brought to justice associated with the previous Government’s 2005-2008 Public Service Agreement targets. This is particularly reflected in the trend for drug offences and public order offences (see relevant sections below for further details).

Between 2007/08 and 2012/13, the number of offences against society recorded decreased year on year, mainly driven by reductions in public order offences.

Drug offences

The police recorded 186,657 drug offences in the year ending September 2014, a decrease of 7% compared with the previous year. Figure 13 shows the trend over time for drug offences, where the number of drug offences steadily rose from 2004/05 until 2008/09 (peaking at 243,536 offences). They remained fairly consistent at around 230,000 each year until 2011/12, after which they began to fall. Despite recent decreases, the number of drug offences recorded in the year ending September 2014 remains 30% higher than the number recorded in 2003/04 (Table 19b).

The number of drug offences recorded by the police is heavily dependent on police activities and priorities and changes over time may reflect changes in the policing of drug crime rather than real changes in its incidence. The increases in the recording of drug offences between 2004/05 and 2008/09 coincide with the priority placed Public Service Agreement targets. For example, in the past decade the police have been granted powers to:

  • issue warnings on the street (rather than at a police station) for possession of cannabis offences (April 2004); and

  • issue penalty notices for disorder for possession of cannabis (January 2009).

In the year ending September 2014, possession of cannabis offences accounted for 66% of all police recorded drug offences; this proportion has remained broadly similar since 2005/06 (between 66% and 70%).

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) can also be used to investigate trends in drug use. Relevant figures from the survey are compiled and published in an annual report by the Home Office: ‘Drug Misuse: Findings from the 2013 to 2014 Crime Survey for England and Wales’. The general trends from the 2013/14 report show that overall illicit drug use in the last year among 16 to 59 year olds has increased in comparison to the previous year, but is back to the same level as in 2011/12. For further information from the CSEW on drug use see the ‘Drug Misuse’ publication.

Public order offences

Public order offences cover circumstances where an offender is behaving in a way that causes, or would be likely to cause, alarm, distress or disorder. If there is an identifiable victim against who physical violence is used (or attempted) then this will be recorded as a violent offence, though public order offences may include some offences where injury is threatened. The offences in this category include public fear, alarm or distress, which has been moved from the violence offence group. Affray is also included in this offence group, a person is guilty of affray if he/she uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another and his/her conduct is such as would cause a “person of reasonable firmness” present at the scene to fear for his/her personal safety.

The latest figures (143,768 offences) show a 10% increase in public order offences compared with the previous year (Table 19b). The majority of this category (59% in the year ending September 2014) was made up of public fear, alarm or distress offences, which showed an 8% increase compared with the previous year; a rise that is likely to reflect improvements in recording practices. Racially or religiously aggravated public fear, alarm or distress offences also increased (by 12%) in the year ending September 2014, and other offences against the State or public order have increased by 13% on the previous year. Public order offences rose from 2002/03 and peaked in 2006/07 (236,661 offences) and have since shown year on year decreases until this year ( Appendix table A4 (515 Kb Excel sheet) ). Like drug offences, the slight increase shown for this offence may reflect increased police activity and reporting, rather than increasing levels of criminality. Furthermore, as with violence crime, public order offences are more prone to changes in police recording practices.

Possession of weapons offences

This offence category covers only weapons possession offences, where there is no direct victim. Any circumstances in which a weapon has been used against a victim would be covered by other relevant victim-based offences. Information regarding offences where firearms or knives and sharp instruments have been used can be found in the ‘Offences involving firearms’ and ‘Offences involving knives and sharp instruments’ sections of this release.

The police recorded 20,942 possession of weapon offences in the year ending September 2014, a 4% increase compared with the previous year (20,160, Table 19a and 19b). The number of possession of weapons offences rose from 2002/03 and peaked in 2004/05 (40,605 offences) and has since shown year on year decreases until 2013/14. The latest increase has been driven by a rise in the possession of knives and other sharp instruments (up 9%) and is consistent with a rise of 7% seen in assault with injury offences involving a knife or other sharp instrument (Table 9a).

Miscellaneous crimes against society

‘Miscellaneous crimes against society’ comprises a variety of offences (see Appendix table A4 (515 Kb Excel sheet) for a full list). The largest volume offences include: handling stolen goods, threat to commit criminal damage and perverting the course of justice. This bulletin includes a new category of ‘Wildlife crime’, which was previously included in other notifiable offences, but since the Crime Statistics, year ending June 2014 release has been separated into its own category. ‘Wildlife crime’ is a low volume offence, because the vast majority of wildlife offences are non-notifiable (that is, not recorded by the police) and dealt with at magistrates' courts by other agencies, such as the National Crime Agency and the Border Force.

The police recorded 48,102 offences in the year ending September 2014, an increase of 12% compared with the previous year (Table 19b). The number of miscellaneous crimes against society offences has shown year on year decreases since 2003/04 until the increase observed in 2013/14.

The latest increase is in part driven by a large rise in the number of obscene publications and protected sexual material offences, which has increased by 36% to 5,401 offences in the year ending September 2014 when compared with the previous year (3,972 offences). This is largely due to an increase in offences related to the making and distribution of indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs (including those of children) via the internet or through mobile technology. It is an offence for a person to take or distribute such indecent photographs. The police service is reporting that they are giving more attention to child sexual exploitation and this is likely to have led to more of these offences being identified.

There was also a rise in threats to commit criminal damage (which includes possession of articles with the intent to commit criminal damage, such as spray paint) which increased by 40% from 5,133 offences in the year ending September 2013 to 7,161 offences in the year ending September 2014 (Appendix table A4).

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16. Fraud

The extent of fraud is difficult to measure because it is a deceptive crime, often targeted at organisations rather than individuals. Some victims of fraud may be unaware they have been a victim of crime, or that any fraudulent activity has occurred. Others may be reluctant to report the offence to the authorities feeling embarrassed that they have fallen victim. Fraud is an offence not currently included in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) headline estimates and the level of fraud reported via administrative sources is thought to significantly understate the true level of such crime.

The National Statistician’s Review of Crime Statistics for England and Wales identified fraud as one of the more important gaps in crime statistics and recommended that data from additional sources should be provided alongside existing available data in quarterly crime statistics publications. This section draws on a range of sources including police recorded crime, Action Fraud, the CSEW and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). No individual source provides a good measure of the overall extend of fraud offences, but together they help to provide a fuller picture. For more information on the different sources of fraud data, see Section 5.4 of the User Guide.

Recent changes to measuring police recorded fraud

There have been a number of changes to the presentation of fraud which were first introduced in the quarterly bulletin released in July 2013. Since that time, to reflect changes in operational arrangements for reporting and recording of fraud, data presented in the police recorded crime series include offences recorded by Action Fraud, a public facing national reporting centre that records incidents reported directly to them from the public and other organisations. Data from Action Fraud are collated by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), a government funded initiative run by the City of London police who lead national policing on fraud.

Since 1 April 2013, Action Fraud has taken responsibility for the central recording of fraud offences previously recorded by individual police forces1. To allow for piloting and development of the Action Fraud service this transfer had a phased introduction between April 2011 and March 2013. For example, by the end of December 2012, 24 police force areas had transferred responsibility with the remaining transferring by the end of March 20132.

From 1 April 2014, all fraud figures included within overall police recorded crime have been sourced from Action Fraud3. However, the comparator year (year ending September 2013) encompasses a mixture of data collections with two quarters of the data collected by the police and Action Fraud and two quarters solely by Action Fraud. As the proportion of fraud offences recorded by individual forces has diminished (and that by Action Fraud has grown), it is not possible to make like for like comparisons between fraud offences recorded during the year ending September 2014 and those in previous years.

Although Action Fraud receives reports of fraud from victims across the UK, data presented in this bulletin cover fraud offences where the victim resides in England or Wales only, based on the victim’s postcode. Currently, Action Fraud data are not included in sub-national tables.

Users of police force area level data should refer to Table 5c in the User Guide for details of when each local force transferred responsibility for recording to Action Fraud. This will allow users to interpret trends in fraud and total recorded crime over time. To provide users with a comparable time series at sub-national level our reference tables include a figure for all police recorded crime excluding fraud4.

Total fraud offences recorded by Action Fraud

In the year ending September 2014, 212,699 fraud offences were recorded in England and Wales (Table 20a), equivalent to 4 offences recorded per 1,000 population. This represents a volume increase of 5% compared with the previous year (Table 20b). However, the move to centralised recording of fraud makes comparisons over time problematic. There are a number of factors that may have contributed to this increase including:

  • the centralisation of recording fraud and a possible improvement in recording practices resulting from having a specialist team dealing with fraud

  • a possible increased proportion of victims reporting fraud following publicity around the launch of Action Fraud

  • availability of online reporting tools to facilitate reporting of fraud offences to Action Fraud

  • a possible increase in the volume of fraud

It is not possible to separate out or quantify the scale of each possible factor. A clearer picture will emerge over the next one to two years once the new recording arrangements have matured. Quarterly analysis of fraud offences shows that during the transition to Action Fraud the level of recorded fraud showed steady increases ( Table QT1 (227.5 Kb Excel sheet) ). However, since the point by which all forces had transferred to Action Fraud (April 2013) levels have remained fairly steady (with the exception of one lower quarter – October to December 2013). It will only be in the year ending March 2015 (due to be published in July 2015) that all effects of the transition will no longer be a factor when considering the year on year changes.

Appendix table A5 (515 Kb Excel sheet) shows a more detailed breakdown of the fraud offences recorded by Action Fraud in the year ending September 2014, and indicates that the largest share of offences (43%) were accounted for by non-investment frauds (91,257 offences), almost half of which specifically relates to frauds involving online shopping and auctions (42,380 offences). There were only 14,941 offences involving cheque, plastic card and online bank accounts, which is likely to reflect the fact that many individuals who had experienced such crime will not report to Action Fraud if their financial services provider reimburses their losses. In contrast, reports from industry sources to NFIB show there were over 250,000 frauds involving cheque, plastic card and online bank accounts (Table 21). It is known that this significantly understates the level of such fraud as ‘Card not present’ fraud, for example use of the card online, over the phone or by mail order, is not included within such industry reports.

For more information on the types of offences within each of the Action Fraud categories see Section 5.4 of the User Guide and Appendix table A5 (515 Kb Excel sheet) .

Fraud offences reported by industry bodies

In line with recommendations from the National Statistician’s review of crime statistics this bulletin draws on additional sources to provide further context. In addition to the fraud offences recorded by Action Fraud, which are included in the police recorded crime series shown above, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) also collect data on fraud direct from industry bodies (Table 21).

The NFIB currently receive data from two industry bodies:

  • CIFAS is a UK-wide fraud prevention service representing around 300 organisations from the public and private sectors. These organisations mainly share data on confirmed cases of fraud, particularly application, identity and first party frauds, via the CIFAS National Fraud Database. Data supplied by CIFAS to the NFIB are recorded in line with the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR) for recorded crime.

  • Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) is the name under which the financial services industry co-ordinates its activity on fraud prevention. FFA UK works in partnership with The UK Cards Association, and collates information from the card payments industry in the UK on fraud relating to cheque, plastic card and online bank accounts, via their central Fraud Intelligence Sharing System (FISS) database. The data supplied by FFA UK also conforms to HOCR, however FISS is an intelligence tool rather than a fraud reporting tool, and its main purpose is to share intelligence about the criminals or entities relating to fraud offences rather than count the number of victims of fraud.

Both sets of industry data relate only to those organisations that are part of the respective membership networks (CIFAS, UK Cards Association), therefore coverage can also change as new members join or previous members withdraw. These data are subject to continuing development and ONS is giving consideration as to whether these can be designated as Official Statistics in the future.

In addition, users should also be aware that the NFIB data sourced from industry bodies cover the United Kingdom as a whole, while all other data in this bulletin refer to England and Wales.

In addition to the offences recorded by Action Fraud, the NFIB received 391,221 reports of fraud in the UK in the year ending September 2014 from industry bodies CIFAS and FFA UK (Table 21).

Of the fraud offences reported by those bodies, 80% were in the category of ‘banking and credit industry fraud’ (314,683). This category includes fraud involving plastic cards , cheques and online bank accounts which accounted for the majority of the offences recorded in the year ending September 2014. The category also covers payment-related frauds under the subcategory ‘Application Fraud’ which includes offences that occurred outside of the banking sector; for example, fraudulent applications made in relation to hire purchase agreements, as well as to insurance, telecommunications or retail companies, or public sector organisations.

Types of plastic card fraud recorded by the National Fraud Database include fraudulent applications for plastic cards (including ID fraud), fraudulent misuse of plastic card accounts, and takeover of plastic card accounts (for example changing the address and getting new cards issued). CIFAS do not currently collect data on ‘card not present’ fraud, where the cardholder and card are not present at the point of sale, for example, use of the card online, over the phone or by mail order. In addition they do not include data on fraud relating to lost or stolen cards and ATM fraud. This means that a high proportion of plastic card fraud is not included in the NFIB figures from industry bodies.

FFA UK data contain intelligence for Mail Not Received (MNR) fraud, Card ID fraud (includes Account Takeover and Application Fraud), Payment fraud (includes fraud relating to telephone banking and online banking), Cheque fraud (includes forged, altered and counterfeit) and Mule accounts (accounts used for laundering the proceeds of fraud). Like CIFAS, FFA UK do not currently feed through to the NFIB data on ‘card not present’ fraud, lost or stolen cards and ATM fraud5. This is thought to represent a significant volume of all plastic card fraud and thus the figures here understate the level of fraud known by industry bodies. However, information relating to plastic card fraud in terms of levels of financial fraud losses on UK cards is published annually by the FFA UK on behalf of the UK Cards Association6.

CIFAS and FFA UK provide separate feeds to NFIB via their individual databases, however a proportion of organisations are members of both industry bodies (CIFAS, UK Cards Association).

It is possible that there may be some double or triple counting between both these sources and the offences recorded via direct reports from victims to Action Fraud. For example, if police are called to a bank and apprehend an offender for a fraud offence, the police may record this crime with Action Fraud and the bank report the same crime to CIFAS and/or FFA UK as part of their processes. Experts believe this duplication to be so small as to have an insignificant effect on crime trends, but there is no simple cross-referencing method within NFIB to detect the scale of it.

Measuring fraud using the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW)

As described above, fraud is not currently included in the headline CSEW crime estimates. However, the CSEW includes supplementary modules of questions on victimisation across a range of fraud and cyber-crime offences, including plastic card and bank/building society fraud. These are currently reported separately from the headline estimates.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is currently conducting some work exploring extending the main victimisation module in the CSEW to cover elements of fraud and cyber-crime. For more information, see the methodological note ‘Work to extend the Crime Survey for England and Wales to include fraud and cyber crime’ and Section 5.4 of the User Guide.

Once the new questions are added to the survey it will lead to an increase in the volume of crime measured by it. To give an indication of the scale of including such crimes in the future, a separate piece of analysis was conducted of existing questions from the 2012/13 CSEW. However, this was based on some simple assumptions given the current absence of data on key elements, such as the number of times respondents fell victim within the crime reference period. The analysis showed that together, plastic card fraud and bank and building society fraud could contribute between 3.6 and 3.8 million incidents of crime to the total number of CSEW crimes in that year.

Plastic card fraud

As mentioned, the CSEW main crime estimates does not include plastic card fraud. However, elements of banking and payment related fraud are the focus of a module of questions in the CSEW, which asks respondents about their experience of plastic card fraud and can be reported on separately.

The year ending September 2014 CSEW showed that 5.0% of plastic card owners were victims of card fraud in the last year, no change from the 4.8% estimated in the year ending September 2013. Before that, there had been small reductions in levels of plastic card fraud over the last few years, following a rise between 2005/06 and 2009/10 surveys (Figure 14). The current increased level of victimisation remains higher than more established offences such as theft from the person and other theft of personal property (1.0% and 1.6% respectively, Table 15). Further analysis, based on the 2011/12 CSEW, was published on 9 May 2013 as part of ‘Focus on: Property Crime, 2011/12: Chapter 3 – Plastic card fraud’.

Separate figures are available from Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) who report on levels of financial fraud losses on UK cards. This totalled £450 million in 2013, a 16% increase compared with 2012 (£388m). Despite this increase, significant decreases in recent years prior to this mean that card fraud losses in 2013 were 26% lower than in 2008 (£610m) when losses were at their peak7.

The industry suggests that a combination of the use of fraud screening detection tools by retailers, banks and the cards industry, the introduction of chip and pin technology, enhanced user and industry awareness and improved prevention and detection initiatives have led to the previous decreases in plastic card fraud. More detailed information including a breakdown of plastic card fraud by type in the UK and abroad, is available from the UK Cards Association.

Notes for fraud

  1. Police forces continue to record forgery offences, which fall under ‘Other crimes against society’ and are not included under ‘Fraud offences’. See Section 5.4 of the User Guide for more information.

  2. For more information regarding the date when each police force transferred responsibility to Action Fraud see Section 5.4: Fraud of the User Guide.

  3. The completion of the transition to Action Fraud happened by the end of 2012/13. However, a small number of fraud offences were mistakenly recorded by police forces in early 2013/14. These were corrected in subsequent quarters, leading to the negative number of fraud offences seen in the latest year to June 2014.

  4. Changes to the way in which police record crimes of fraud following the introduction of the Fraud Act 2006 mean that fraud figures from 2007/08 onwards are not directly comparable with figures for earlier years.

  5. These frauds are reported separately to FFA UK via a fraud reporting mechanism which does not feed through to NFIB, and so do not appear in the figures we publish.

  6. Fraud losses on UK-issued cards between 2003 and 2013 are reported in the ‘Fraud The Facts 2014’ publication.

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17. Crime experienced by children aged 10 to 15

Since January 2009, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) has asked children aged 10 to 15 resident in households in England and Wales about their experience of crime in the previous 12 months. Question changes during development of the questionnaire in the first three years of the survey should be considered when interpreting the figures. While data presented since the 2011/12 survey year should be comparable, it is difficult to discern a trend as the total number of incidents has shown small fluctuations across the available time series. For this reason no percentage change or statistical significance is presented for any year. Methodological differences also mean that direct comparisons cannot be made between the adult and child data (Millard and Flatley).

Overall level of crime

Based on CSEW interviews in the year ending September 2014, there were an estimated 721,000 crimes experienced by children aged 10 to 15 using the preferred measure1; of these 52% were categorised as violent crimes2 (375,000) while most of the remaining crimes were thefts of personal property (304,000; 42%) (Tables 22 to 24). Incidents of criminal damage to personal property experienced by children aged 10 to 15 were less common (42,000; 6% of all crimes experienced by this age group).

An estimated 11% of children aged 10 to 15 were victims of crimes covered by the CSEW in the past year. Of these, this includes 6% who have been a victim of a violent crime and 6% who had been a victim of personal theft. While there were more violent incidents than theft offences, violent incidents affected a similar proportion of 10 to 15 year olds as seen for theft offences. This is because they were more likely to have been repeated against the same victim.

Violent offences

The CSEW estimates that there were 375,000 violent offences against children aged 10 to 15 in the year ending September 2014 with just over two thirds (69%) of these resulting in injury to the victim. This equates to 6% of children aged 10 to 15 having had experienced violent crime in the last year; and 4% having had experienced violence with injury (Table 23). One per cent of children aged 10 to 15 were victims of robbery in the last year.

Property offences

There were an estimated 304,000 incidents of theft and 42,000 incidents of damage of personal property experienced by children aged 10 to 15 in the year ending September 2014 according to the CSEW. Around 64% of the thefts were classified as other theft of personal property (194,000 incidents) which includes thefts of property left unattended.

Six per cent of children aged 10 to 15 had experienced an incident of personal theft in the last year, with other theft of personal property most commonly experienced (4%). Theft from the person (for example, pick-pocketing) was not as common, with 1% of children reporting being victimised. One per cent of children had experienced criminal damage to personal property.

Notes for crime experienced by children aged 10 to 15

  1. More information about the preferred and broad measures of crime against children can be found in the User Guide. Tables for the broad measure of crime are available in the bulletin table spreadsheet, Tables 22-24

  2. The survey of children aged 10 to 15 only covers personal level crime (so excludes household level crime); the majority (75%) of violent crimes experienced in the year ending September 2014 resulted in minor or no injury, so in most cases the violence is low level

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18. Anti-social behaviour

Incidents recorded by the police

Figures recorded by the police relating to anti-social behaviour (ASB) can be considered alongside police recorded (notifiable) crime to provide a more comprehensive view of the crime and disorder that comes to the attention of the police. Any incident of ASB which results in a notifiable offence will be included in police recorded crime figures and as such the two sets of data do not overlap.

The police record ASB incidents in accordance with the National Standard for Incident Recording (NSIR); for further details, see Section 5.7 of the User Guide. These figures are not currently accredited National Statistics. In particular, a review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in 2012 found significant variation in the recording of ASB incidents across police forces. It is also known that occasionally police forces may be duplicating some occurrences of a singular ASB incident where multiple reports by different callers have been made.

Following the HMIC review in 2012, it was additionally found that there was a wide variation in the quality of decision making associated with the recording of ASB1. HMIC found instances of:

  • forces failing to identify crimes, instead wrongly recording them as ASB;

  • reported ASB not being recorded on force systems, for instance if the victim had reported it directly to the neighbourhood team or via email (as opposed to by telephone);

  • reported ASB being recorded as something else, such as suspicious behaviour; and

  • incidents that were not ASB being recorded as ASB.

Furthermore, data on ASB incidents before and after 2011/12 are not directly comparable, owing to a change in the classification used for ASB incidents. From April 2012, ASB incidents also include data from the British Transport Police so direct comparisons can only be made from 2012/13 onwards. The police recorded 2.0 million incidents of ASB in the year ending September 2014. This compares to the 3.7 million notifiable crimes recorded by the police over the same period (Figure 15). The number of ASB incidents recorded by the police and the British Transport Police in the year ending September 2014 decreased by 10% compared with the previous year.

Figures for the period 2007/08 to 2011/12 also show declines in the number of ASB incidents recorded by the police consistent with recent trends in total police recorded crime.

From 2011/12, a new set of three simplified categories for ASB was introduced (for further details, see Chapter 5 of the User Guide):

  • ‘Nuisance’ – captures incidents where an act, condition, thing or person causes trouble, annoyance, irritation, inconvenience, offence or suffering to the local community in general rather than to individual victims;

  • ‘Personal’ – captures incidents that are perceived as either deliberately targeted at an individual or group, or having an impact on an individual or group rather than the community at large; and

  • ‘Environmental’ – captures incidents where individuals and groups have an impact on their surroundings, including natural, built and social environments.

All forces adopted these new definitions, though in the HMIC report it was found that 35% of all incidents reviewed were incorrectly categorised; this should be taken into account when considering ASB incident figures.

In the year ending September 2014, 67% of the ASB incidents categorised by the police were identified as ‘Nuisance’; 27% as ‘Personal’; and 6% as ‘Environmental’ (Figure 16). This distribution may reflect propensity of reporting rather than the actual distribution of ASB by type.

CSEW measures of anti-social behaviour

Questions about respondents’ actual experiences of ASB in their local area were added to the 2011/12 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) to expand on existing questions about perceived ASB. These questions asked whether the respondent had personally experienced or witnessed ASB in their local area and, if so, what types.

Twenty-eight per cent of adults in the year ending September 2014 indicated that they had personally experienced or witnessed at least one of the ASB problems asked about in their local area in the previous year (Table 25), which has not changed from the previous year. This included 10% of adults who experienced or witnessed drink related anti-social behaviour and 8% who witnessed or experienced groups hanging around on the streets.

The CSEW also contains a separate set of questions asking respondents about perceptions of problems with different types of ASB in their local area. Seven of these questions are used to provide an overall index of perceived ASB. In the year ending September 2014 CSEW, 11% of adults perceived there to be a high level of ASB in their local area, a decrease of one percentage point since the previous year (Table 26).

Since 2003/04 the CSEW has consistently estimated that around a quarter of adults perceive a problem in their local area with ‘People using or dealing drugs’ and almost a third believe ‘Rubbish or litter lying around’ as a problem in the local area. Other anti-social behaviour indicators have tended to show declines over this time period, with the most pronounced decline for the ‘Abandoned or burnt-out cars’ category, which peaked at 24% in 2002/03 and has subsequently fallen each year down to 2% in the year ending September 2014.

It is difficult to directly compare the two CSEW measures (perceptions of and experiences of ASB) since the list of ASB categories used in the experience-based questions is more expansive than those asked of respondents in relation to their perceptions. In addition, they are measuring different things; actual experiences and perceptions. It is likely someone can experience an ASB incident without necessarily believing that it is part of a problem in their local area, if for example, it was a one-off or isolated occurrence. The frequency or number of incidents experienced coupled with the perceived extent and seriousness of a problem will also vary from person to person.

More detailed analysis on ASB as measured by the CSEW has been published in the 'Short Story on Anti-Social Behaviour, 2011/12' release.

Notes for Anti-social behaviour

  1. See the HMIC report: ‘A step in the right direction: The policing of anti-social behaviour’ for further details.
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19. Other non-notifiable crimes

The police recorded crime series is restricted to offences which are, or can be, tried at a Crown Court and a few additional closely related summary offences1. A range of non-notifiable offences may be dealt with by the police issuing an out of court disposal or by prosecution at a magistrates' court. Offences dealt with at magistrates courts may also include some offences that have been identified by other agencies – for example, prosecutions by TV Licensing or by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) for vehicle registration offences.

Data on these offences provide counts of offences where action has been brought against an offender and guilt has either been ascertained in court, or the offender has admitted culpability through acceptance of a penalty notice. These offences generally only come to light through the relevant authorities actively looking to identify offending behaviour. These figures help fill a gap in the coverage of the main Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and police recorded crime statistics.

The most recent data available on non-notifiable crimes are for the year ending June 2014. Key findings include the following:

  • Cases brought to magistrates’ courts in the year ending June 2014 resulted in close to 1.0 million convicted non-notifiable offences, down 5% from the year ending June 2013 and continuing the downward trend since 2002/03 (Tables 27a and 27b)2; and

  • 31,000 Penalty Notices for Disorder were issued for non-notifiable offences in the year ending June 2014 (Table 27a); around four in five of these were for being drunk and disorderly3.

The police and, increasingly, local authorities, have powers to issue penalty notices for a range of traffic offences; the police issued 1.3 million Fixed Penalty Notices (over half of which related to speeding) in 20124.

Notes for other non-notifiable crimes

  1. The Notifiable Offence List includes all indictable and triable-either-way offences (that is, offences which could be tried at a Crown Court) and a few additional closely related summary offences (which would be dealt with by a magistrates' court). For information on the classifications used for notifiable crimes recorded by the police, see Appendix 1 of the User Guide

  2. The latest figures available from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) relate to all offences for the year ending June 2014 and thus lag the CSEW and police recorded series by three months but are included to give a fuller picture

  3. Figures from the MoJ’s Criminal Justice Statistics Quarterly Update to June 2014 (Tables 2.1, 6.2, 6.3)

  4. Figures from the Home Office’s Police Powers and Procedures 2012/13 publication

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20. Commercial Victimisation Survey

In order to address the significant gap in crime statistics that existed for crimes against businesses, the National Statistician’s review of crime statistics (National Statistician, 2011), recommended the Home Office continue to implement its plans for a telephone survey of businesses.

The 2012 Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS) provided information on the volume and type of crime committed against businesses in England and Wales across four sectors: ‘Manufacturing’; ‘Wholesale and retail’; ‘Transportation and storage’; and ‘Accommodation and food’. For more information, see the Home Office’s ‘Headline findings from the 2012 Commercial Victimisation Survey’ and ‘Detailed findings from the 2012 Commercial Victimisation Survey’.

The 2013 CVS covered a slightly different set of business sectors; it continued to include the ‘Accommodation and food’, and ‘Wholesale and retail’ sectors, but the ‘Manufacturing’ and ‘Transportation and storage’ sectors were replaced by the ‘Agriculture, forestry and fishing’ and the ‘Arts, entertainment and recreation’ sectors. For more information, see the Home Office’s ‘Headline findings from the 2013 Commercial Victimisation Survey‘ and ‘Detailed findings from the 2013 Commercial Victimisation Survey’.

The CVS is annual, not continuous. Headline figures for the number of crimes against businesses are included in this bulletin.

In the 2013 CVS there were an estimated total of 5,915,000 crimes experienced by business premises in the wholesale and retail sector, 23% lower than the estimated total of 7,708,000 crimes experienced by business premises in the wholesale and retail sector in the 2012 CVS, although this decrease was not statistically significant.

In the 2013 CVS there were an estimated total of 575,000 crimes experienced by business premises in the accommodation and food sector, down 42% from the estimated total of 985,000 crimes experienced by business premises in the accommodation and food sector in the 2012 CVS.

Victimisation was most prominent in ‘Wholesale and retail’ premises (53% of premises experienced crime in the 2012 CVS and 45% in the 2013 CVS) and least prominent in ‘Manufacturing’ (2012 CVS) and ‘Agriculture, forestry and fishing’ (2013 CVS) premises (30% of both types of premises had experienced crime in the year prior to interview).

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21. Data sources – coverage and coherence

Crime Survey for England and Wales

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) is a face-to-face survey in which people resident in households in England and Wales are asked about their experiences of crime in the 12 months prior to the interview. It covers both children aged 10-15 and adults aged 16 and over, but does not cover those living in group residences (such as care homes, student halls of residence and prisons), or crimes against commercial or public sector bodies. Respondents are interviewed in their own homes by trained interviewers using a structured questionnaire that is administered on a laptop computer using specialist survey software. The questions asked do not use technical terms or legal definitions but are phrased in plain English language.

The information collected during the interview is then reviewed later by a team of specialist coders employed by the survey contractors (currently TNS-BMRB) who determine whether or not what was reported amounts to a crime in law and, if so, what offence has been experienced. This ‘offence coding’ aims to reflect the Home Office Counting Rules for recorded crime which govern how the police record offences reported to them. The CSEW is able to capture all offences experienced by those interviewed, not just those that have been reported to, and recorded by, the police. It covers a broad range of victim-based crimes experienced by the resident household population. However, there are some serious but relatively low volume offences, such as homicide and sexual offences, that are not included in its main estimates. The survey also currently excludes fraud and cyber crime though there is ongoing development work to address this gap – see the methodological note 'Work to extend the Crime Survey for England and Wales to include fraud and cyber crime'. This infographic sets out what is and is not covered by the CSEW.

Since it began, the CSEW has been conducted by an independent (from government or the police) survey research organisation using trained interviewers to collect data from sampled respondents. The interviewers have no vested interest in the results of the survey. For the crime types and population groups it covers, the CSEW has a consistent methodology and is unaffected by changes in levels of public reporting to the police, recording practice or police activity. As such, the survey is widely seen to operate as an independent reality-check of the police figures. The independence of the survey has been further strengthened by the transfer of responsibility from the Home Office to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in April 2012.

The CSEW has a higher number of reported volumes than police recorded crime as the survey is able to capture all offences by those interviewed, not just those that have been reported to the police and then recorded. However, it does cover a narrower range of offences than the recorded crime collection.

The CSEW has necessary exclusions from its main count of crime (for example, homicide, crimes against businesses and other organisations, and drug possession). The survey also excludes sexual offences from its main crime count given the sensitivities around reporting this in the context of a face-to-face interview. However, at the end of the main interview there is a self-completion element (also via a computer) where adults aged 16 to 59 are asked about their experience of domestic and sexual violence and these results are reported separately1.

Since the survey started in 1982 (covering crime experienced in 1981) a core module of victimisation questions has asked about a range of offences experienced either by the household (such as burglary) or by the individual respondent (such as robbery). The offences covered by this core module have remained unchanged since the survey started.

The offence of fraud, whether committed in traditional or newer ways (such as over the internet), is not part of this core module. Other offences which are committed via cyberspace (such as harassment) are also not covered by the existing questions. However, supplementary modules of questions are included in the survey in an attempt to better understand the nature of these newer types of crime. In addition, methodological work is ongoing to explore the feasibility of adding questions to the core module to cover newer types of crime2.

The survey is based on a sample of the population, and therefore estimates have a margin of quantifiable (and non quantifiable) error associated with them. The latter includes: when respondents have recalled crimes in the reference period that actually occurred outside that period (‘telescoping’); and crimes that did occur in the reference period that were not mentioned at all (either because respondents failed to recall a fairly trivial incident or, conversely, because they did not want to disclose an incident, such as a domestic assault). Some may have said they reported a crime to the police when they did not (a ‘socially desirable’ response); and, some incidents reported during the interview could be miscoded (‘interviewer/coder error’).

In 2009, the CSEW was extended to cover children aged 10 to 15, and this release also incorporates results from this element of the survey. The main analysis and commentary however is restricted to adults and households due to the long time series for which comparable data are available.

The CSEW has a nationally representative sample of around 35,000 adults and 3,000 children (aged 10 to 15 years) per year. The response rates for the survey in 2013/14 were 75% and 68% respectively. The survey is weighted to adjust for possible non-response bias and to ensure the sample reflects the profile of the general population. For more details of the methodology see the CSEW technical report.

Police recorded crime and other sources of crime statistics

Police recorded crime figures are supplied by the 43 territorial police forces of England and Wales, plus the British Transport Police, via the Home Office, to ONS. The coverage of police recorded crime is defined by the Notifiable Offence List3, which includes a broad range of offences, from murder to minor criminal damage, theft and public order offences. However, there are some, mainly less serious offences, that are excluded from the recorded crime collection. These ‘non-notifiable’ crimes include many incidents that might generally be considered to be anti-social behaviour but that may also be crimes in law (including by-laws) such as littering, begging and drunkenness. Other non-notifiable offences include driving under the influence of alcohol, parking offences and TV licence evasion. These offences are not covered in either of the main two series and are separately reported on in this release to provide additional context.

Police recorded crime is the primary source of sub-national crime statistics and for relatively serious, but low volume, crimes that are not well measured by a sample survey. It covers victims (including, for example, residents of institutions and tourists as well as the resident population) and sectors (for example commercial bodies) excluded from the CSEW sample. Recorded crime has a wider coverage of offences, for example covering homicide, sexual offences, and crimes without a specific, identifiable victim (referred to as ‘Other crimes against society’) not included in the main CSEW crime count. Police recorded crime also provides good measures of well-reported crimes but does not cover any crimes that are not reported to or discovered by the police. It is also affected by changes in reporting and recording practices. Like any administrative data, police recorded crime will be affected by the rules governing the recording of data, by the systems in place, and by operational decisions in respect of the allocation of resources.

As well as the main police recorded crime series, there are additional collections providing detail on offences involving the use of knives and firearms, which are too low in volume to be measured reliably by the CSEW.

This quarterly statistical bulletin also draws on data from other sources to provide a more comprehensive picture. These include incidents of anti-social behaviour recorded by the police (which fall outside the coverage of notifiable offences), non-notifiable crimes dealt with by the courts (again outside the coverage of recorded crime or the CSEW), crime reports from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and the results of the 2012 and 2013 Commercial Victimisation Surveys (based on a nationally representative sample of business premises in four industrial sectors in each of the two years).

More details of these sources can be found in the User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales. Information on UK and international comparisons can be found in the International and UK comparisons section.

Strengths and limitations of the CSEW and police recorded crime

Notes for data sources – coverage and coherence

  1. For more detailed information, see ‘Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/13.

  2. For more information, see ‘Discussion paper on the coverage of crime statistics

  3. The Notifiable Offence List includes all indictable and triable-either-way offences (offences which could be tried at a crown court) and a few additional closely related summary offences (which would be dealt with by magistrates' courts). For information on the classifications used for notifiable crimes recorded by the police, see Appendix 1 of the User Guide.

  4. See Section 3.3 of the User Guide.

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22. Accuracy of the statistics

Being based on a sample survey, Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimates are subject to a margin of error. Unless stated otherwise, all changes in CSEW estimates described in the main text are statistically significant at the 5% level. Since the CSEW estimates are based upon a sample survey, it is good practice to publish confidence intervals alongside them; these provide a measure of the reliability of the estimates. Details of where these are published, including further information on statistical significance can be found in Chapter 8 of the User Guide.

Police recorded crime figures are a by-product of a live administrative system which is continually being updated as incidents are logged as crimes and subsequently investigated. Some incidents initially recorded as crime may on further investigation be found not to be a crime (described as being ‘no crimed’). Other justifications for a previously recorded crime being ‘no crimed’ include, among others, an incident being recorded in error, or transferred to another force. Some offences may change category, for example from theft to robbery (for further details of the process involved from recording a crime to production of statistics see Section 3.2 of the User Guide). The police return provisional figures to the Home Office on a monthly basis and each month they may supply revised totals for months that have previously been supplied. The Home Office Statistics Unit undertake a series of validation checks on receipt of the data and query outliers with forces who may then re-submit data. Details of these validation checks are given in Section 3.3 of the User Guide and the differences in data published between the current and preceding publications can be found in Table QT1a (227.5 Kb Excel sheet) .

Police recording practice is governed by the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR) and the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS). The HOCR have existed in one form or another since the 1920s with some substantial changes in 1998.

The NCRS was introduced in April 2002 following a critical report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in 2000 (Povey, 2000) which showed there was a problem with differing interpretation of the HOCR that resulted in inconsistent recording practices across forces.

The Audit Commission carried out regular independent audits of police data quality between 2003/04 and 2006/07. In their final assessment published in September 2007 (Audit Commission, 2007) they commented that “The police have continued to make significant improvements in crime recording performance and now have better quality crime data than ever before”.

However, both the UK Statistics Authority (2010) and the National Statistician (2011) have highlighted concerns about the absence of such periodic audits. A HMIC quality review in 2009 into the way in which police forces record most serious violence (which at the time was part of a central Government target) found some variation in recording which they partly attributed to the lack of independent monitoring of crime records. In line with a recommendation by the National Statistician, HMIC carried out a review of police crime and incident reports in all forces in England and Wales during 2011 (HMIC, 2012) and a full national inspection of crime data integrity was undertaken during 2014 (HMIC, 2014).

Analysis published by ONS in January 2013 (175.4 Kb Pdf) used a ‘comparable’ sub-set of offences covered by both the CSEW and police recorded crime in order to compare the relationship between the two series. This analysis showed that between 2002/03 and 2006/07 the reduction in the volume of crime measured by the two series was similar, but between 2006/07 and 2011/12 the gap between the two series widened with the police recorded crime series showing a faster rate of reduction. One possible explanation for this is a gradual erosion of compliance with the NCRS, such that a growing number of crimes reported to the police are not being captured in crime recording systems. For more details see the ‘Analysis of Variation in Crime trends’ methodological note.

Statistics based on police recorded crime data do not currently meet the required standard for designation as National Statistics.

Additionally, as part of the inquiry by the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) into crime statistics allegations of under-recording of crime by the police have been made. In the PASC inquiry referenced above the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Tom Winsor, outlined how HMIC would be undertaking an inspection of the integrity of police recorded crime during 2014. Findings from the inspections of crime recording processes and practices have helped provide further information on the level of compliance across England and Wales.

HMIC’s inspection methodology involved audits of a sample of reports of crime received either through incidents reported by the public, crimes directly reported to a police crime bureau, and those reports referred by other agencies directly to specialist departments within a force. HMIC’s aim was to check whether correct crime recording decisions were made in each case. Inspections were carried out between December 2013 and August 14; a total of 10,267 reports of crime recorded between November 2012 and October 2013 across all 43 police forces in England and Wales were reviewed.

The final report on findings from the HMIC inspections, ‘Crime-recording: making the victim count’, was published on 18 November 2014 and separate crime data integrity force reports for each of the 43 police forces in England and Wales were published on 27 November 2014.

Based on an audit of a large sample of records, HMIC concluded that, across England and Wales as a whole, an estimated one in five offences (19%) that should have been recorded as crimes were not. The greatest levels of under-recording were seen for violence against the person offences (33%) and sexual offences (26%), however there was considerable variation in the level of under-recording across the different offence types investigated. For other crime types: an estimated 14% of criminal damage and arson offences that should have been recorded as crimes were not; 14% of robbery offences; 11% of burglary offences; and 17% of other offences (excluding fraud).

The report outlines several recommendations to strengthen recording practices in forces including improved training for those involved in crime recording, better auditing and tightening of recording processes. More detail can be found in the User Guide.

Potential future increases in police recorded crime data are likely to be seen due to the implementation of the aforementioned HMIC recommendations rather than a genuine increase in the levels of crime, so trends should be interpreted with caution.

Further evidence suggesting that there has been a recent improvement in compliance with the NCRS can be seen from updated analysis comparing trends in the CSEW and police recorded crime (see section 4.2 of the User Guide). This shows that the gap between the two series is narrowing; suggesting that improvements to recording practices may be partly responsible for increases in recorded crime.

Interpreting data on police recorded crime

The renewed focus on the quality of crime recording means that caution is needed when interpreting statistics on police recorded crime. While we know that it is likely that improvements in compliance with the NCRS have led to increases in the number of crimes recorded by the police it is not possible to quantify the scale of this or assess how this effect varied between different police forces. While police recorded crime for England and Wales as a whole has remained at a similar level when compared with the previous year, some crime types have shown increases and 24 police forces have recorded overall increases in levels of crime.

Apparent increases in police force area data may reflect a number of factors including tightening of recording practice, increases in reporting by victims and also genuine increases in the levels of crime1.

It is thought that incidents of violence are more open to subjective judgements about recording and thus more prone to changes in police practice. A number of forces have also shown large increases in sexual offences which are likely to be due to the Yewtree effect, although improved compliance with recording standards for sexual offences may also have been a factor. In contrast, anecdotal evidence suggests that increases in shoplifting are more likely to represent a genuine rise in that type of offence. Ministry of Justice statistics also show a recent rise in the number of offenders being prosecuted for shoplifting at Magistrates' courts.

Notes for accuracy of the statistics

  1. For further information on possible explanations of increasing police recorded crime levels see Chapter 3 of the User Guide.
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23. Users of crime statistics

There is significant interest in crime statistics and a diverse range of users. These include elected national and local representatives (such as MPs, Police and Crime Commissioners and local councillors), police forces, those delivering support or services to victims of crime, lobby groups, journalists, academic researchers, teachers and students.

These statistics are used by central and local government and the police service for planning and monitoring service delivery and for resource allocation. The statistics are also used to inform public debate about crime and the public policy response to it. Further information about the uses of crime statistics is available in the Crime Statistics Quality and Methodology Information report.

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24. International and UK comparisons

There are currently no recognised international standards for crime recording and international comparisons are limited due to the differing legal systems which underpin crime statistics and processes for collecting and recording crimes.

Crimes recorded by the police

The system for recording crime in England and Wales by the police is widely recognised by international standards to be one of the best in the world. Few other jurisdictions have attempted to develop such a standardised approach to crime recording and some of those that have base their approach on the England and Wales model (for example, Australia, Northern Ireland). Thus, it is difficult to make international comparisons of levels of recorded crime given the lack of consistency in definitions, legal systems and police/criminal justice recording practices.

The legal system in Northern Ireland is based on that of England and Wales and the Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI) has the same notifiable offence list for recorded crime as used in England and Wales. In addition, the PSNI has adopted the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) and Home Office Counting Rules for recorded crime that applies in England and Wales. Thus there is broad comparability between the recorded crime statistics in Northern Ireland and England and Wales.

However, recorded crime statistics for England and Wales are not directly comparable with those in Scotland. The recorded crime statistics for Scotland are collected on the basis of the Scottish Crime Recording Standard, which was introduced in 2004. Like its counterpart in England and Wales, it aims to give consistency in crime recording. The main principles of the Scottish Crime Recording Standard itself are similar to the National Crime Recording Standard for England and Wales with regard to when a crime should be recorded.

However, there are differences between the respective counting rules. For example, the ‘Principal Crime Rule’ in England and Wales states that if a sequence of crimes in an incident, or alternatively a complex crime, contains more than one crime type, then the most serious crime should be counted. For example, an incident where an intruder breaks into a home and assaults the sole occupant would be recorded as two crimes in Scotland, while in England and Wales it would be recorded as one crime.

Differences in legislation and common law have also to be taken into account when comparing the crime statistics for England/Wales and Scotland.

Victimisation surveys

A number of countries run their own national victimisation surveys and they all broadly follow a similar model to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) in attempting to obtain information from a representative sample of the population resident in households about their experience of criminal victimisation. The US National Crime and Victimisation Survey (NCVS) is the longest running, being established in 1973 and there are similar surveys in other countries including Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and New Zealand. However, while these surveys have a similar objective they are not conducted using a standard methodology. Sampling (frames and of households/individuals) and modes of interview (for example face to face interviewing, telephone interviewing, self-completion via the web) differ, as do the crime reference periods (last five years, last 12 months, last calendar year) over which respondents are asked about their victimisation experience. Similarly, there is a lack of standardisation in question wording and order. Response rates vary considerably across the world, as do methods to adjust for any resulting possible non-response bias; therefore, it becomes extremely difficult to make valid comparisons between the surveys.

There have been attempts in the past to run international surveys on a standard basis and the International Crime and Victimisation Survey (ICVS) was initiated by a group of European criminologists with expertise in national crime surveys. The survey aimed to produce estimates of victimisation that could be used for international comparisons. The first survey was run in 1989 and was repeated in 1992, 1996 and 2004/5. All surveys were based upon a 2,000 sample of the population, and in most countries, surveys were carried out with computer-assisted telephone interviewing. A pilot ICVS-2, intended to test alternative and cheaper modes of data collection including self-completion via the web, was carried out in a limited number of countries in 2010.

However, despite the attempt to obtain a standardised and comparable approach to all of the surveys, this was never successfully achieved. While a standard questionnaire was employed in all countries, alongside a standard mode of interviewing, important differences remained in the approach to sampling, translation of questions into different national languages, interview lengths and response rates which make comparisons problematic.

Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own separate victimisation surveys that, like the CSEW, complement their recorded crime figures.

The Northern Ireland Crime Survey (NICS) closely mirrors the format and content of the CSEW employing a very similar methodology with continuous interviewing, a face to face interview with nationally representative sample of adults (16 years and over) using a similar set of questions. Thus results from the two surveys are broadly comparable.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) also follows a similar format to the CSEW, having a shared antecedence in the British Crime Survey (whose sample during some rounds of the survey in the 1980s covered Scotland, south of the Caledonian Canal). There are differences in the crimes/offence classifications to reflect the differing legal systems but the results from the surveys are broadly comparable.

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25. List of products

Release tables published alongside this commentary include a set of bulletin tables containing the data tables and numbers appearing behind graphs in this publication, and more detailed estimates and counts of crime levels as set out in the table below.

The following are URL links associated with the production of Crime Statistics.

  1. Crime statistics publications on the Home Office website

  2. Historic police recorded crime

  3. National Statistician’s Review of Crime Statistics

  4. Previous quarterly publication

  5. User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales

  6. Guide to Finding Crime Statistics

  7. The 2012/13 Crime Survey for England and Wales Technical Report Volume 1

  8. Analysis of Variation in Crime Trends (methodological note)

  9. Future Dissemination Strategy – Summary of Responses

  10. Methodological note: Presentational changes to National Statistics on police recorded crime in England and Wales

  11. Methodological note: Presentational and methodological improvements to National Statistics on the Crime Survey for England and Wales

  12. Work to extend the Crime Survey for England and Wales to include fraud and cyber crime (methodological note)

  13. ‘‘Focus on Public Perceptions of Policing, 2011/12’ (published 29 November 2012)

  14. Short story on Anti-Social Behaviour, 2011/12’ (published 11 April 2013)

  15. An overview of hate crime in England and Wales’ (published 17 December 2013)

  16. Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/13’ (published 13 February 2014)

  17. 'Focus on: Victimisation and Public Perceptions, 2012/13' (published 30 May 2014)

  18. Focus on Property Crime, 2013/14’ (published 27 November 2014)

Anonymised datasets from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (in SPSS format) currently are available on:

In addition to these National Statistics releases, provisional police recorded crime data drawn from local management information systems sit behind, street level figures released each month, via:

Police recorded crime, street level mapping tool.

Crime Statistics for Scotland are available from the Scottish Government.

Crime Statistics for Northern Ireland are available from the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

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26 .References

Audit Commission, 2007, Police data quality 2006/07: ‘Improving data quality to make places safer in England and Wales

British Retail Consortium, 2013, ‘Policies & Issues: Retail Crime

CIFAS, 2014, ‘CIFAS members

Department for Transport, 2014, ‘Vehicle licensing statistics, 2013

Durham Constabulary, 2014, ‘Over 230 new calls to Medomsley detectives

Evening Standard, 2013, ‘Bike mugger phone thefts in London soar to 3,754 in a year

Financial Fraud Action UK, 2014, ‘Fraud The Facts 2014

Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSIC), 2014, ‘Provisional Monthly Hospital Episode Statistics for Admitted Patient Care, Outpatients and Accident and Emergency Data – April 2013 to March 2014

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), 2012a, ‘A step in the right direction: The policing of anti-social behaviour

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), 2012b, ‘The crime scene: A review of police crime and incident reports

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), 2014a, ‘Crime data integrity force reports

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), 2014b, ‘Crime-recording: making the victim count

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), 2014c, ‘Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI), 2012, ‘Forging the links: Rape investigation and prosecution

Home Office, 2012, ‘Guidance on the offence of buying scrap metal for cash

Home Office, 2013a, ‘Crime against businesses: Detailed findings from the 2012 Commercial Victimisation Survey

Home Office, 2013b, ‘Metal theft, England and Wales, financial year ending March 2013

Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Office for National Statistics, 2013, ‘An overview of sexual offending in England and Wales

Home Office, 2014a, ‘Crime against businesses: Detailed findings from the 2013 Commercial Victimisation Survey

Home Office, 2014b, ‘Crime against businesses: Headline findings from the 2013 Commercial Victimisation Survey

Home Office, 2014c, ‘Drug Misuse: Findings from the 2013 to 2014 Crime Survey for England and Wales

Home Office, 2014d, ‘Police powers and procedures England and Wales 2012/13

Home Office, 2014e, ‘Reducing mobile phone theft and improving security

Metropolitan Police, 2014, ‘Commission of an independent review into rape investigation

Millard, B. and Flatley, J. (Eds), ‘Experimental statistics on victimisation of children aged 10 to 15: Findings from the British Crime Survey for the year ending December 2009’, Home Office Statistical Bulletin 10/11

Ministry of Justice, 2014, ‘Criminal justice statistics quarterly update to June 2014

National Statistician, 2011, ‘National Statistician’s Review of crime statistics for England and Wales

Nottingham Post, 2013, ‘Nottingham Co-op stores to get tough on shoplifters

Office for National Statistics, 2012, ‘Trends in crime – A short story 2011/12

Office for National Statistics, 2013a, ‘Analysis of variation in crime trends: A study of trends in ‘comparable crime’ categories between the Crime Survey of England and Wales and the police recorded crime series between 1981 and 2011/12

Office for National Statistics, 2013b, ‘Focus on: Property Crime, 2011/12

Office for National Statistics, 2013c, ‘Future dissemination strategy: Summary of responses

Office for National Statistics, 2013d, ‘Presentational changes to National Statistics on police recorded crime in England and Wales

Office for National Statistics, 2013e, ‘Short Story on Anti-Social Behaviour, 2011/12

Office for National Statistics, 2014a, ‘Action Plan to address requirements from UK statistics authority assessment – Progress update

Office for National Statistics, 2014b, ‘Crime Statistics Quality and Methodology Information

Office for National Statistics, 2014c, ‘Discussion paper on the coverage of crime statistics

Office for National Statistics, 2014d, ‘Focus on: Property Crime, 2013/14

Office for National Statistics, 2014e, ‘Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/13

Office for National Statistics, 2014f, ‘Presentational and methodological improvements to National Statistics on the Crime Survey for England and Wales

Office for National Statistics, 2014g, ‘User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales

Office for National Statistics, 2014h, ‘What does the Crime Survey for England and Wales cover?

Office for National Statistics, 2014i, ‘Work to extend the Crime Survey for England and Wales to include fraud and cyber crime

Public Administration Select Committee, 2013, ‘Crime Statistics, HC760: Evidence heard, Questions 1-135

Public Administration Select Committee, 2014, ‘Caught red handed: Why we can’t count on police recorded crime statistics

Sivarajasingam, V., Wells, J.P., Moore, S., Page, N. and Shepherd, J.P., 2014, ‘Violence in England and Wales in 2013: An Accident and Emergency Perspective

The Guardian, 2014, ‘Rise in female shoplifters linked to benefit cuts, say police

TNS BMRB, 2013, ‘2013/14 Crime Survey for England and Wales: Technical Report, Volume One

UK Cards Association, 2012, ‘Plastic fraud figures

UK Statistics Authority, 2014a, ‘Assessment of compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics: Statistics on Crime in England and Wales

UK Statistics Authority, 2014b, ‘Types of official statistics

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27 .Background notes

  1. The Crime in England and Wales quarterly releases are produced in partnership with the Home Office who collate and quality assure the police recorded crime data presented in the bulletins. Home Office colleagues also quality assurance the overall content of the bulletin.

  2. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.

  3. Next quarterly publication - 23rd April 2015

    Future thematic report due to be published: Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2013/14 - 12th February 2015

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    Media contact:
    Tel: Luke Croydon 0845 6041858
    Emergency on-call 07867 906553
    Email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    Website: www.ons.gov.uk

  4. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    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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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

John Flatley
crimestatistics@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7592 8695