1. Main points

  • Official statistics cannot provide a measure of all crime, but the available sources can provide useful insights to long-term and emerging trends in crimes.
  • The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) provides a good measure of long-term trends for a selected range of crimes experienced by the general public, including those not reported to the police and the latest figures show one in five adults, aged 16 and over, had fallen victim in the previous year.
  • Including new Experimental Statistics on fraud and computer misuse offences, the CSEW estimated 10.8 million incidents of crime in the latest survey year, but first annual comparisons will not be available until January 2018.
  • The police recorded 5.2 million offences in the latest year; this series can provide a better indication of emerging trends but can also reflect changes in recording practices and police activity rather than genuine changes in crime.
  • The 13% increase in police recorded crime from the previous year reflects a range of factors including continuing improvements to crime recording and genuine increases in some crime categories, especially in those that are well-recorded.
  • The new presentation of official statistics on violent crime highlights there were 711 deaths or serious injuries caused by illegal driving, a 6% rise from that recorded in the previous year.
  • A number of sources showed a rise in bank and credit card fraud in the last year; UK Finance reported a 3% rise in the volume of fraudulent transactions reported on UK-issued cards.
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2. Statistician’s comment

"Today's figures suggest that the police are dealing with a growing volume of crime. While improvements made by police forces in recording crime are still a factor in the increase, we judge that there have been genuine increases in crime – particularly in some of the low incidence but more harmful categories."

"Police figures cannot provide a good measure of all crime in society, since we know that a large volume of it never comes to their attention. The recent increases in recorded crime need to be seen in the context of the overall decline in crime indicated by the Crime Survey for England and Wales."

“The Survey remains our best guide to long-term trends for crime as experienced by the population in general."

John Flatley, Crime Statistics and Analysis, Office for National Statistics, @ONSJohnFlatley on Twitter.

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3. Overview of crime

Crime trends over time

Crime, by its nature, is inherently difficult to measure in its entirety and neither of the two main sources provides a complete picture. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) provides a consistent measure over time of a broad set of crimes experienced by the population resident in households. It shows the likelihood of being a victim of CSEW crime has fallen considerably over time; around 14 in 100 adults were victims in the latest survey year compared with around 24 in 100 adults a decade ago (in the survey year ending March 2007) and around 40 in 100 adults in 1995 (the peak survey year).

The latest CSEW estimate is 5.8 million incidents of crime in the year ending June 2017, a 9% reduction compared with the previous year. However, these headline estimates do not yet include fraud and computer misuse offences as these have not been included in the survey for the full two years needed to make annual comparisons. Including fraud and computer misuse, there were an estimated 10.8 million incidents of crime in the year ending June 2017.

The main strength of the CSEW is that it provides a good measure of long-term trends for a selected range of crimes, including those not reported to the police. However, it is less able to provide a good indication of changes in low volume crimes or emerging trends. This is in part due to the time lag arising from the 12-month recall period1, the fact that CSEW sample sizes for individual crime types are relatively small and the natural variability in estimates arising from any sample survey.

The police recorded crime series covers a wider range of offences than the CSEW but is restricted to those crimes that have been reported to and recorded by the police. From the 1980s until the late 1990s, trends in police recorded crime broadly followed those shown by the CSEW, but changes to recording rules and processes resulted in rises between 1998 and 2004 that did not reflect changes in crime as estimated by the CSEW. The two sources then both showed a downward trend until the early 2010s, when a renewed focus on improving crime recording resulted in further increases in the police series each year. The size of year-on-year increases has grown, with police recorded crime increasing by 5% in the year ending June 2015, by 7% in the year ending June 2016, and by 13% in the latest year.

This increase reflects a range of factors which vary for different individual crime types and which is explained in the other sections of the bulletin. The factors can include continuing improvements to recording processes and practices, more victims reporting crime, or genuine increases in crime. Information on why the two data sources are showing differing trends was previously published in the methodological note, Why do the two data sources show differing trends? and more information is available in the User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales.

Changes in specific types of crime

Overall, in the year to June 2017, the number of offences recorded by the police in the majority of crime categories has increased, while CSEW estimates have either fallen or shown no statistically significant difference.

The police recorded 583,782 more offences in the year ending June 2017 than in the previous year. All main categories of police recorded crime increased. This section provides a brief overview of recent trends in selected main crime types where the number of offences recorded by the police has been increasing.

More detailed analysis by crime type is provided in sections 5 to 10 of this bulletin.

Violence

Continuing the trend seen in recent years, the volume of violence against the person offences being dealt with by the police increased in the year ending June 2017; up by 19% compared with the previous year (from 1,033,719 to 1,229,260). This was driven largely by increases in the subcategories of “violence without injury” (21%) and “stalking and harassment” (36%) as well as a smaller increase in “violence with injury” (10%). Most of this volume increase was thought to result from improved recording practices but it is likely that rises in the most serious categories reflect genuine rises in violent crime. These lower volume but serious offences are thought to be generally well-recorded by the police.

The CSEW estimated that there were 1.2 million incidents of violence experienced by adults aged 16 and over in the latest survey year ending June 2017; no change from the previous survey year (the apparent 4% decrease was not statistically significant). Part of the explanation for the differing trend lies in the different crime mix between the survey and recorded crime series. The survey estimates tend to be dominated by higher volume but less serious violent crime whereas the police series tends to be skewed more towards the higher-harm types of violent crimes that come to their attention.

Police recorded crime figures cover a wider range of offences than the CSEW, including homicide, death by dangerous driving, threats, stalking and harassment, while the CSEW includes offences not reported to the police. Around 20% of the rise in police recorded violence against the person in the last year is in categories not covered by the CSEW.

Knife crime

Some categories of police recorded crime relating to more serious violent and sexual offences can be broken down further by whether or not a knife or sharp instrument was involved. This information is collected separately by the Home Office from police forces and comparable data is only available from the year ending March 2011 onwards. As offences involving the use of weapons are relatively low in volume, the CSEW is not able to provide reliable trends for such incidents.

The police recorded 36,998 of these offences that involved a knife or sharp instrument in the latest year ending June 2017, a 26% increase compared with the previous year (29,476) and the highest figure recorded since the year ending March 2011. This continues the increasing trend in knife crime offences seen in recent years, but follows a period when knife crime offences were declining in the early 2010s.

The police force area that showed the largest volume increase was the Metropolitan Police, which accounted for 47% of the increase across England and Wales. While some of the rise in offences involving knives may reflect improvements in recording practices, it is thought that the main driver has been a genuine rise in knife crime in areas such as London, as this is reflected by other data sources. It is also possible that more targeted police action to tackle knife crime may have led to more offences coming to the attention of the police than might otherwise have done so.

Sexual offences

There was an increase of 19% in the number of sexual offences recorded by the police in the latest year ending June 2017 compared with the previous year (up to 129,700). This is likely to have resulted from both more victims reporting offences to the police and improved recording by police forces in response to ongoing inspections by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) carried out since 2014. The national inspection in 2014 identified significant under-recording of these offences by police forces.

This latest rise is larger than that recorded for the previous year (14%) and reflects an increase in the number of sexual offences being recorded by the police in recent months. This marks a change from the recent trend, which had indicated that the rise in sexual offences had been slowing down compared with the rate of increases recorded in 2014 and 2015.

Latest estimates from the CSEW self-completion module2 for the survey year ending March 2017 showed that 2.0% of adults aged 16 to 59 years had been victims of sexual assaults in the last year (including attempted offences). There was no significant change from the previous year’s estimate (2.0%) but it forms part of the underlying downward trend seen since the survey year ending March 2009.

Theft

Since the mid-1990s, both the CSEW and police recorded crime have shown long-term reductions in most categories of theft. However, police recorded theft increased by 11% in the year ending June 2017 compared with the previous year and continues the recent upward rise seen in the last two years. This includes rises in all main categories of theft, including burglary (6%), vehicle-related theft offences (17%), theft from the person (11%) and shoplifting (11%); of which the latter is not covered by the CSEW.

CSEW estimates have shown a significant reduction in theft offences of 11% in the last year, in line with the long-term trend. However, while the CSEW provides a robust measure of long-term trends, it is less useful at providing an indication of emerging trends. It is thought that some sub-categories of theft such as burglary and vehicle theft are well-recorded by police. Therefore in these categories the increases are likely to reflect a genuine rise in these types of crime. The picture is less clear for other types of theft offences, which may be more prone to changes in recording practices.

Fraud

There have been significant changes to the arrangements for the recording and investigating of fraud by the police between 2011 and 2013. Action Fraud took over responsibility from territorial forces for such recording and new feeds from industry associations to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) came on stream. Such changes make it difficult to compare levels of recorded fraud over the longer-term.

The latest comparable figures show that fraud offences collated by the NFIB from Action Fraud, Cifas and UK Finance3 indicated that there was a 4% increase in the number of fraud offences recorded in England and Wales (up to 653,468 offences4) in the year ending June 2017 compared with the previous year. This follows similar rises in each of the last five years.

Experimental Statistics from the CSEW estimated that there were 3.3 million incidents of fraud in the survey year ending June 2017, with over half of these (57%; 1.9 million incidents) being cyber-related. The main difference between CSEW and NFIB fraud data arises from the fact that most fraud offences do not come to the attention of the police. As a result, police recorded crime data give a very partial picture of the extent of fraud, while CSEW estimates provide a more complete picture of the threat.

The first estimates of trends in fraud from the CSEW will be published in January 2018.

Headline CSEW and police recorded crime figures

Notes for: Overview of crime

  1. The lag effect on the CSEW relates to the reference period used in the survey interview. Respondents are asked about crimes they experienced in the 12 months prior to the interview. Since the earliest interviews in the current survey year took place in July 2016, the latest estimates are based on crimes occurring between July 2015 and May 2017. Further information on the survey reference period is available in Chapter 2 of the User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales.

  2. Estimates of sexual offences from the face-to-face interview section of the CSEW are prone to fluctuation due to the small number of offences identified and are therefore not included in the main CSEW estimate of crime. A self-completion module on intimate violence provides an improved measure of the proportion of people who have been victims of sexual offences.

  3. As of 1 July 2017, FFA UK is now integrated into UK Finance, a new trade association representing the finance and banking industry in the UK.

  4. This figure is taken from Table A4 and includes two fraud offences recorded by the police. The total fraud offences recorded in England and Wales reported in Table A5 differs slightly, as it excludes these two offences.

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4. Things you need to know about this release

Crime statistics and the wider criminal justice system

The crime statistics reported in this release relate to only a part of the wider set of official statistics available on crime and other areas of the criminal justice system such as the outcome of police investigations; the judicial process including charges, prosecutions and convictions; through to the management of prisons and prisoners.

Some of these statistics are published by the Home Office or Ministry of Justice and a flowchart depicting the connections between all these different aspects of crime and justice, as well as the statistics available for each area, has been published alongside this release. Figure 7 is an extract from that flowchart and highlights the portion of the process that is covered by statistics included in this release.

Sources included

This bulletin primarily reports data from two main sources of crime data: the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and police recorded crime. More information on both these sources can be found in the User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales to crime statistics.

Time periods covered

The latest CSEW figures presented in this release are based on interviews conducted between July 2016 and June 2017, measuring peoples’ experiences of crime in the 12 months before the interview.

The latest recorded crime figures relate to crimes recorded by the police during the year ending June 2017 (between July 2016 and June 2017). In this release:

  • “latest year” (or “latest survey year”) refers to the (survey) year ending June 2017
  • “previous year” (or “previous survey year”) refers to the (survey) year ending June 2016
  • any other time period is referred to explicitly
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5. What is happening to theft?

Both the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and police recorded crime series have shown long-term declines in theft offences. Overview articles containing more detailed information on the long-term trends, on bicycle theft, vehicle-related theft, robbery and theft from the person and burglary and other household theft have previously been published.

The latest estimates from the CSEW showed an 11% decrease in all theft offences in the year ending June 2017 compared with the previous year. This was driven by a 27% decrease in other theft of personal property (a volume decrease of 218,000 incidents), theft from the person (12%, a reduction of 48,000 incidents) and other household theft (10%, a reduction of 64,000 incidents).

In contrast to the CSEW, police recorded theft has increased by 11% compared with the previous year. The theft offences category of police recorded crime covers a range of acquisitive crimes including burglary, vehicle offences (principally theft of and theft from a motor vehicle), theft from the person, as well as theft of unattended items. Robbery, which is theft (or attempted theft) involving the use or threat of force, is covered in a separate category. However, since it is a similar type of offence and the motivation to commit a robbery will normally be the acquisition of money or property, the latest robbery trends are also covered in this section.

Police recorded crime has increased across all theft categories in the year, but the most marked were in vehicle theft offences (up 17%, from 366,955 to 427,561) and shoplifting (up 11%, from 340,565 to 377,172). Both of these categories have seen rising numbers of crimes recorded over the last few years, with shoplifting increasing in each of the last four years and vehicle thefts in the last three years. However, these latest increases were larger than those seen in the year ending June 2016, which were 3% vehicle theft offences, 3% shoplifting) (Table A4). The largest percentage increase can be seen in the sub-category of bicycle theft, where over 100,000 offences were recorded (up 19% from 84,685 to 100,788).

There were smaller volume increases in theft from the person offences (up by 11%, from 83,185 to 92,435), burglary (up 6% compared with the previous year, from 398,330 to 423,137 offences) and robbery (up 25%, from 51,397 to 64,499). Increases in theft from the person continue the increases seen in the previous year; however, in the categories of burglary and robbery, the increases in the number of recorded crimes have emerged more recently.

Police recorded burglary figures shown in Table A4 have been affected by recent changes to the categorisation of domestic and non-domestic burglary in the Home Office Counting Rules for police recorded crime that were introduced in March 2017. New sub-categories of residential and non-residential burglary have replaced domestic and non-domestic burglary respectively, but with the important distinction that the classification of residential burglary now includes all buildings or parts of buildings that are within the boundary of, or form a part of, a dwelling. Any building not directly connected to a dwelling was previously counted as non-domestic burglary. This change was introduced to draw together burglaries to the main dwelling house and those to other buildings that are part of the overall residential property.

Offences recorded between April and June 2017 have been recorded on this new basis and as a result the figures for domestic and non-domestic burglary for the current year are no longer comparable with previous data. A comparison will be available once two years’ worth of data has been collected in March 2019. The 6% rise in the total burglary category is not affected by this change in the sub-classification1.

These recent increases should be seen in the context of a longer-term declining trend in theft offences (Figure 8). The current level remains 26% lower than in the year ending March 2007 (Table 2). Though the police recorded 185,865 more theft offences in the year ending June 2017, when expressed as a rate per population, there is little change compared with the previous year (Table A7).

Robbery is an offence that is disproportionally concentrated in London and other larger cities. In the latest year and similar to previous years, London accounted for 41% of all police recorded robbery in England and Wales, compared with 18% across all crime types (excluding fraud). Data published by Metropolitan Police2 suggests that in recent years robberies and thefts committed on mopeds have increased across London. Often the mopeds used to facilitate snatch thefts and robberies are also stolen; these vehicles typically do not have immobilisers and vehicles are targeted that have little to no security3. The increase in these types of crimes is also a contributing factor to the rise seen in vehicle-related thefts, theft from the person and robbery offences.

In contrast to the police recorded crime figures, the latest data from the CSEW continue to show falls in theft, with the estimated number of theft offences having declined by 11% compared with the previous year (Table A1). However, this does not necessarily mean that we can conclude that increases in police recorded crime do not reflect a genuine rise in crime. While the CSEW provides a robust measure of long-term trends, as discussed within the methodological note, Why do the two data sources show differing trends?, it is less useful at providing an indication of short-term trends. This is in part due to the time lag arising from the 12-month recall period4, the fact that CSEW sample sizes for individual crime types are relatively small and the natural variability in estimates arising from any sample survey. In addition the CSEW does not cover some types of theft offences, such as shoplifting.

For offences such as burglary, vehicle theft, theft from the person and robbery it is likely that these increases reflect a genuine rise in these types of crime since these tend to be well-recorded. However, these volume rises are relatively small in the context of the longer-term reduction seen in most of these offences.

Notes for: What is happening to theft?

  1. A full explanation of changes can be found in the Crime in England and Wales: year ending March 2017 bulletin under the section ‘Upcoming changes to this bulletin’.

  2. Data obtained from a published Freedom of Information request.

  3. Evidenced in the Metropolitan Police’s Be Safe Campaign.

  4. The lag effect on the CSEW relates to the reference period used in the survey interview. Respondents are asked about crimes they experienced in the 12 months prior to the interview. Since the earliest interviews in the current survey year took place in July 2016, the latest estimates are based on crimes occurring between July 2015 and May 2017. Further information on the survey reference period is available in Chapter 2 of the User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales.

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6. Latest violent crime figures continue to present a complex picture

Violent crime covers a wide range of offences including minor assaults (such as pushing and shoving), harassment and psychological abuse (that result in no physical harm), through to wounding and death. Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) violence includes incidents with and without injury and also covers attempted incidents. Violent offences in police recorded data are referred to as “violence against the person” and include homicide, death or serious injury caused by illegal driving violence with injury, violence without injury and stalking and harassment1. As with the CSEW, both actual and attempted offences are included in the figures.

For the population and violent offences that it covers, the CSEW provides the better measure of trends. The police recorded crime series is restricted to violent offences that have been reported to, and recorded by, the police. In addition, due to the ensuing efforts of police forces to tighten recording practice and improve recording processes, this series is not currently believed to provide a reliable measure of trends. It’s important to recognise the differences in the two measures of crime; the CSEW tends to record high numbers of less harmful crimes while police recorded crime provides a better measure of the more serious, low volume offences such as homicide, as these tend to have higher levels of reporting to the police.

Overview of the latest violent crime figures

There were an estimated 1.2 million incidents of violence experienced by adults aged 16 and over in the latest CSEW survey year ending June 2017; no change from the previous survey year (the apparent 4% decrease was not statistically significant). The sub-categories of “violence with injury” and “violence without injury” both showed no significant change (Figure 9).

This fairly flat trend continues that seen in recent years, with no significant year-on-year change since the survey year ending March 2014. However, the cumulative effect of this downward trend has seen a statistically significant decrease of 25% in the latest survey year compared with the year ending March 2013. The longer-term reductions in violent crime, as shown by the CSEW, are also reflected in the findings of research conducted by the Violence and Society Research Group at Cardiff University. Findings from their annual survey, covering a sample of hospital emergency departments and walk-in centers in England and Wales, show that serious violence-related attendances in 2016 showed a 10% fall compared with 2015 and continue a generally long-term downward trend.

Around 2 in every 100 adults were a victim of CSEW violent crime in the latest survey year, compared with around 3 in 100 adults in the survey year ending March 2007 and 5 in 100 adults in 1995 (the peak year).

Estimates of violence against 10-to-15-year-olds, as measured by the CSEW, can be found in Table F22.

In contrast to the recent flat trend shown by the CSEW, violence against the person offences recorded by the police in the latest year, increased by 19% compared with the previous year (up from 1,033,719 to 1,229,260).

Impact of crime-recording improvements

Ongoing work by police forces over the last two-to-three years to improve crime recording practices are thought to be an important driver of the increase in all police recorded violence, but make interpreting trends in police recorded violence against the person offences difficult. These are thought to have had a larger effect on relatively less-serious types of violent crime but to have had a lesser impact on more serious sub-categories as described in the homicide and weapons sections.

However, it is known that violent offences are more prone than some other offences to subjective judgement about whether or not to record a crime. The Crime-recording: making the victim count report, published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary & Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in November 2014, found that levels of under-recording by the police were particularly pronounced for violent crime and sexual offences (where 67% and 74% of reports of crime were recorded respectively). These offences have been the main focus of the subsequent rolling programme of HMICFRS inspections.

Nationally, in 2014, an estimated one in three (33%) reports of violence that should have been logged as crimes were not recorded as such.

More recent Crime Data Integrity inspections carried out by HMICFRS2 in the last year show that improvements in recording have been made since 2014 and this is likely to have been an important factor in the recorded increase in violent crime. However, this varies between forces and some forces have further work to do to ensure reports of crime, in particular violent crime, are recorded correctly. Of the 14 published inspection reports, only three forces received a rating of “good”, with four rated as “requires improvement” and seven as “inadequate”. Therefore, the increases in police recorded crime as a result of improved recording could continue for some time. It is also possible that there have been some genuine increases in crime among the less serious categories at the same time as ongoing improvements to recording.

Changes in individual sub-categories of police recorded violence

The “violence without injury” sub-category, which accounted for 41% of all violence recorded by the police, showed a larger increase in the latest year to June 2017 (up 21% to 504,051 offences), than the violence with injury sub-category (up 10% to 480,748 offences).

There was a large volume increase in the sub-category of assault without injury (up 79,002 offences). Smaller increases can be seen in threats to kill (up 4,293 offences) and modern slavery3 (up 1,389 offences).

A new sub-category has been introduced within the main violence against the person offence group, for “death or serious injury caused by illegal driving”. It contains offences previously counted under violence with injury. This new sub-category saw a 6% rise compared with the previous year (up from 669 to 711). There has been a slight downward trend since year ending March 2003, falling to its lowest point in year ending March 2013 (345 offences). Since then, there have been year-on-year increases with number of offences reaching just over 700. As with homicide offences, this category is thought to be well-recorded by the police. To put these figures in context, the Department for Transport figures show that there were 1,601 road deaths in England and Wales in 2016, a 2% increase from the previous year4.

Additionally, stalking and harassment offences have been moved out of the sub-category of “violence without injury” and are now in a separate sub-category of “stalking and harassment” along with the new notifiable offence of malicious communications. This new sub-category accounted for one-third of the increase in violence recorded by the police (33% equating to 64,924 offences). In the latest year, harassment offences rose by 17% (up to 201,044 offences from 172,157 offences). This is thought partly to reflect the expansion of the harassment category in April 2015 to include two additional notifiable offences5.

The offences in question, “disclosure of private sexual photographs and films (including on the internet) with the intent to cause distress or anxiety” and “sending letters (including emails) with intent to cause distress or anxiety”, relate to the rise in “sexting” and its consequential impact. Although figures for both the latest year and previous year now include these two new offences, caution should be taken when making comparisons across the two years. The continued increase will in part be a result of improved identification and recording of these crimes since they have become notifiable.

The large increase seen in harassment in the latest year may also be due to some forces incorrectly recording some crimes as harassment. In the latest joint inspection6 conducted by HMICFRS and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI), it was found that stalking was not always recorded accurately by the police and in some of these cases, stalking was recorded as harassment. These findings suggest we cannot currently be confident about the accuracy of the recorded crime figures for the separate categories of stalking or harassment.

Most of the 10% increase in the “violence with injury” sub-category (438,980 up to 480,748 offences) is a result of an increase in assault with injury (87% of the increase).

Public order offences increased by 43% in the last year compared with a 28% increase in the previous year. They cover a range of incidents including “causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress”. These offences are not covered by the CSEW and can be influenced by changes in police activity and recording practices. Improvements to recording are thought to have had an impact on public order offences in a similar way to the related violence against the person offences. However, it is also possible that genuine increases in public disorder may also beplaying a part in this rise.

Changes at police force area level

Nearly all police forces recorded a rise in violence in the latest year to June 2017 compared with the previous year. In percentage terms, the largest increase was reported by South Yorkshire Police (up 49% to 31,838 offences). Other large percentage increases included Durham Constabulary (up 48% to 16,532 offences), Greater Manchester Police (up 46% to 76,404 offences) and Northumbria Constabulary (up 39% to 35,458 offences), as shown in Tables P1 and P2. When interpreting these figures, it is important to bear in mind that these increases will reflect recording improvements and the extent of such effects differs across police forces.

A number of forces have indicated that the volume rise in recorded violence is largely a result of a greater proportion of reports of crime being recorded rather than a genuine rise. For example, data from the Metropolitan Police Service showed that while police recorded violence against the person increased by 4% in the latest year, the number of calls for service (for example, emergency and non-emergency calls from members of the public) relating to violent crime decreased by around 2% over the same period.

Homicide

Unlike many other offences in the “violence against the person” category, the quality of recording of homicides is thought to have remained consistently good.

The police recorded 664 homicides in the latest year to June 2017, a 2% fall compared with the previous year (Tables F3a and F3b) 7,8. However, recent trends in homicide have been affected by the recording of incidents where there were multiple victims, such as the 96 cases of manslaughter from the event at Hillsborough in 1989 and the more recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester. Of the 664 homicides recorded in the year ending June 2017, there were 35 relating to the London and Manchester terror attacks.

If the cases related to Hillsborough and the London and Manchester terror attacks are excluded, then there was a volume rise of 46 homicides (an 8% rise, up to a total of 629). This follows the general upward trend seen in recent years and contrasts with the previously downward trend over the previous decade.

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 century, which was at a faster rate than population growth over the same period. However, over the past decade, the volume of homicides has generally decreased while the population of England and Wales has continued to grow. The rate of homicide fell 12% between the year ending March 2007 and the year ending June 2017, from 14 homicides per 1 million of the population to 11 homicides per 1 million.

There was a substantial increase of 59% (426 offences) in the number of attempted murder offences in the latest year. This rise is due largely to the London and Manchester terror attacks, where the police recorded 294 (69% of the rise in) attempted murder offences.

There is more detailed information on long-term trends and the circumstances of violence in Focus on violent crime and sexual offences, England and Wales: year ending March 2016; however, this does not include the most recent statistics for the year ending June 2017. The latest statistics published relating to “hate crime” were released by the Home Office in Hate Crime, England and Wales, 2016 to 2017.

Notes for: Latest violent crime figures continue to present a complex picture

  1. There are some closely-related offences in the police recorded crime series, such as public order offences, that have no identifiable victim and are contained within the “other crimes against society” category.

  2. These reports were published during 2016 and 2017, and the most recent reports were published on 7 September 2017.

  3. Modern slavery can take multiple forms including sexual exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude. Before 1 April 2015, modern slavery offences were recorded under trafficking for sexual exploitation, immigration offences, and other indictable or triable-either-way offences. As of 1 April 2015, a separately identifiable crime recording category of modern slavery was introduced. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 consolidated existing slavery and trafficking offences into one Act. These provisions came into force on 31 July 2015.

  4. Data taken from Department for Transport publication “Reported road casualties in Great Britain: 2016 annual report.

  5. These are “disclosure of private sexual photographs and films (including on the internet) with the intent to cause distress or anxiety” and “sending letters (including emails) with intent to cause distress or anxiety”; the latter is thought to account for 97% of these newly added offences, based on data from 42 forces supplied via the Home Office Data Hub.

  6. Living in fear - the police and CPS response to harassment and stalking inspection report was published in July 2017.

  7. Homicide includes the offences of murder, manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and infanticide. Figures from the Homicide Index for the time period April 2014 to March 2016, which take account of further police investigations and court outcomes, were published in Focus on violent crime and sexual offences: year ending March 2016 on 9 February 2017.

  8. These figures include murders related to the Westminster Bridge terrorist-related incident in March 2017. It also includes seven offences of corporate manslaughter relating to the Croydon train crash.

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7. Police recorded domestic abuse continues to rise

Another possible factor behind the rise in police recorded violent offences is forces experiencing an increase in the reporting of domestic abuse and the subsequent recording of these offences by the police. A 2015 Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMICFRS) report concluded that recent increases in the number of domestic abuse-related crimes were due, in part, to police forces improving their recording of domestic abuse incidents as crimes and to forces actively encouraging victims to come forward to report these crimes.

The Home Office has been collecting information from the police, since April 2015, on whether recorded offences are related to domestic abuse. Crimes should be “flagged” as being domestic abuse-related by the police if the offence meets the government definition of domestic violence and abuse1. Data for the year ending June 2017 showed that violence against the person offences were the most likely to be flagged (32%), followed by sexual offences (13%) (Figure 10). However, as the “flagging” of offences relies on a manual intervention in the crime recording system, the quality of this data may be inconsistent across police forces and open to a greater degree of fluctuation than the underlying number of recorded offences by crime type.

The police recorded 511,319 offences that were domestic abuse-related in the year ending June 2017, a 18% increase on the 431,7682 offences recorded the previous year. However, it is important to note that the increase is likely to be driven by improvements in crime recording by the police. As well as general improvements, the police may have improved their identification of which offences are domestic abuse-related and more victims may be coming forward to report these crimes. The latest data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) showed that there was no change in the prevalence of domestic abuse among adults aged 16 to 59 between the year ending March 2016 (6.1%) and the year ending March 2017 (5.9%). The apparent decrease was not statistically significant.

Included in the rise in domestic abuse-related crimes are offences of coercive or controlling behaviour in an intimate or family relationship3. This became a new criminal offence as part of the Serious Crime Act 2015 and came into force on 29 December 2015. Information on the number of coercive control offences is available for the police forces that have moved onto the Home Office Data Hub. Of the 38 forces for which data was available, 4,246 offences of coercive control were recorded in the year ending March 2017. These numbers will be updated in the forthcoming Domestic Abuse in England and Wales release.

The number of these offences that have been recorded has increased over the last year as the police have become more aware of how to recognise such criminality and how to use the new law. Additionally, from 1 July 2016, the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR) were amended so that such offences should take precedence over other offences (except for assaults where there is intent to cause serious harm). This change is likely to have led to an increase in the number of coercive control offences recorded by the police. However, it is likely that the number of such offences recorded is an underestimation of the number of such cases dealt with by the police until the rule changes have bedded-in across all forces.

Since the year ending March 2005, the CSEW has included a self-completion questionnaire module on intimate violence, for persons aged 16 to 59 years only4, which provides a measure of the proportion of people who have been victims of domestic abuse in this age group over time. The most recent data available (year ending March 2017) showed the proportion of all adults aged 16 to 59 years who had been victims of domestic abuse in the last year (including attempted offences) has shown no change from the previous year (the apparent decrease to 5.9% from 6.1% was not statistically significant). Further analysis can be found in the previous statistical bulletin, Crime in England and Wales: year ending March 2017.

Further details on domestic abuse will be published in the “Domestic abuse in England and Wales, year ending March 2017” release, which is due to be published on 23 November 2017.

Notes for: Police recorded domestic abuse continues to rise

  1. Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

  2. This figure differs to the one previously published due to data reconciliation.

  3. This offence is constituted by behaviour on the part of the perpetrator, which takes place “repeatedly or continuously”. The victim and alleged perpetrator must be “personally connected” at the time the behaviour takes place. The behaviour must have had a “serious effect” on the victim, meaning that it has caused the victim to fear violence will be used against them on “at least two occasions”, or it has had a “substantial adverse effect on the victims’ day to day activities”. The alleged perpetrator must have known that their behaviour would have a serious effect on the victim, or the behaviour must have been such that he or she “ought to have known” it would have that effect.

  4. The upper age limit of 59 years was increased to 74 years in April 2017.

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8. Rise in police recorded sexual offences

Crime Survey for England and Wales

Due to the small number of sexual offences identified in the face-to-face interview section of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), estimates of the volume of incidents are prone to fluctuation and therefore not included in the main CSEW estimate of crime. Since the year ending March 2005, the CSEW has included a self-completion module on intimate violence, for persons aged 16 to 59 years only1, which provides an improved measure of the proportion of people in this age group who have been victims of sexual offences.

The estimates from this module for the survey year ending March 2017 showed that 1.9% of adults aged 16 to 59 years had been victims of sexual assaults in the last year (including attempted offences), no significant change from the previous year’s estimate (2.0%). These figures have fluctuated between 1.5% and 2.4% since the survey year ending March 2009, but the underlying trend since the survey year ending March 2012 has been downwards (Table S39).

More detailed data from the self-completion module is published with the Focus on violent crime and sexual offences, England and Wales: year ending March 2016 release; however, these are not the latest statistics.

Police recorded crime

There was an increase of 19% in the number of sexual offences recorded by the police in the latest year ending June 2017 compared with the previous year (up to 129,700, Tables F6a and F6b). This is the highest volume recorded since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in April 2002, following year-on-year increases since the year ending March 2012.

Police recorded rape increased by 22% (to 45,100 offences) compared with the previous year, while other sexual offences increased by 17% (to 84,600). Offence categories that directly relate to sexual offences against children2 contributed over one-third (37%) to the total increase in the number of sexual offences recorded by the police.

A contributing factor to the increase is thought to include an increased willingness of victims to come forward and report these crimes to the police. High-profile coverage of sexual offences and the police response to reports of non-recent sexual offending, for example, Operation Yewtree, which began in 2012, and more recently, allegations by former footballers, alongside a dedicated police operation set up to investigate these, is likely to have an ongoing influence on victims’ willingness to come forward to report both recent and non-recent offences.

In the year ending June 2017, of all sexual offences recorded by the police, 25%3 were non-recent offences. Non-recent offences increased by 18% compared with the year ending June 2016. However, while non-recent offences remain an important contributor to the latest rise in sexual offences, the rise was predominantly due to increases in current offences (those that took place within 12 months of being recorded by the police).

A factor in the latest rise is improvements made by the police in the recording of sexual offences. Recent inspection reports by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary & Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) indicate that there has been a significant rise in the recording of sexual offences since the Crime-recording: making the victim count report, published by HMICFRS in late 2014, found that sexual offences had been substantially under-recorded (by 26% nationally). Given the different factors affecting the reporting and recording of these offences, we feel the police figures do not currently provide a reliable indication of current trends.

More information on interpreting longer-term trends in these offences can be found in Focus on violent crime and sexual offences, England and Wales: year ending March 2016, however, this does not include the most recent statistics for the year ending March 2017.

  1. The upper age limit of 59 years for the self-completion module was increased to 74 years in April 2017 following new development work.

  2. This includes “rape of a male or female child under 16”, “rape of a male or female child under 13”, “sexual assault on a male or female child under 13”, “sexual activity involving a child under 13 or under 16” and “abuse of children through sexual exploitation”.

  3. Based on findings from the Home Office Data Hub (HODH) from a subset of forces.

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9. Police recorded offences involving weapons continue to rise

Some of the more serious offences in the police recorded crime data can be broken down further by whether or not a knife or sharp instrument was involved1. Most of these have seen increases, including some violence against the person categories, robbery and some sexual offences.

Data are also available for police recorded crimes involving the use of firearms (that is, if a firearm is fired, used as a blunt instrument, or used as a threat).

As offences involving the use of weapons are relatively low in volume, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) is not able to provide reliable trends for such incidents.

Offences involving knives or sharp instruments2

The police recorded 36,998 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the latest year ending June 2017 , a 26% increase compared with the previous year (29,4763) and the highest number in the seven-year series (from year ending March 2011), the earliest point for which comparable data are available4 (Table 3). The past three years have seen a rise in the number of offences involving a knife or sharp instrument recorded, following a general downward trend in this series since the year ending March 2011.

The offence “assault with injury and assault with intent to cause serious harm” accounted for half (50%) of total selected offences (including homicide) involving a knife or sharp instrument. All offence categories for which data are collected showed increases, except for homicide. The category of “robbery” showed the largest rise in terms of volume of offences (from 10,551 to 14,429, up 37%), followed by “Assault with injury and assault with intent to cause serious harm” (from 15,561 to 18,528, up 19%). The rise in robbery was more pronounced than that seen in the last quarter (23%), mirroring recent increases in the category as a whole.

The majority of police forces (38 of the 44) recorded a rise in offences involving knives and sharp instruments. The force that showed the largest volume increase was the Metropolitan Police (accounting for 47% of the increase in England and Wales). In the previous year, the largest contributor was West Midlands Police (accounting for 17% of the increase). A breakdown of offences for each police force and the time series for this data are published in the Home Office’s knife crime open data table5.

However, there has also been some indication, particularly in relation to more serious offences involving an injury to the victim, that the latest rise may represent a real change to the downward trend seen in recent years. Admissions data for NHS hospitals in England6, for example, showed a 7% increase in admissions for assault by a sharp object, from 4,054 in the year ending March 2016 to 4,351 in the year ending March 2017.

Police recorded “possession of an article with a blade or point” offences also rose, by 31%, to 15,544 offences in the latest year. This rise is consistent with increases seen over the last three years, but this is the highest figure since the series began in the year ending March 2009. This figure can often be influenced by increases in targeted police action in relation to knife crime, which is most likely to occur at times when rises in offences involving knives are seen.

The category of “aggravated burglary”, which captures offences of burglary involving the use of a weapon, also increased over this period (up by 6% to 1,828).

Taking everything into account, the picture is a complex one, with rises in offences involving knives possibly reflecting both improvements in recording practices and targeted police action, but also a genuine rise in some areas such as London.

Further analysis on offences involving knives or sharp instruments in the previous year can be found in Focus on violent crime and sexual offences, England and Wales: year ending March 2016; however, this does not include the most recent statistics for the year ending March 2017.

Offences involving firearms

Offences involving firearms7 increased by 27% (to 6,696) in year ending June 2017 compared with the previous year (5,269 offences). This was driven largely by a 25% increase in offences involving handguns (up to 2,791 from 2,224) and partly by an 18% increase in offences involving imitation weapons such as BB guns8 (up to 1,721 from 1,457), a 53% increase in offences involving shotguns (up to 652 from 427) and a 47% increase in offences involving unidentified firearms (up to 933 from 635). The latest rise continues an upward trend seen in firearms offences in the last few years, however, offences are still 31% below a decade ago (in the year ending March 2007; Figure 11).

Over the last year, over two-thirds (32 of the 439) of police forces recorded a rise in offences involving firearms. The force that showed the largest volume increase was the Metropolitan Police (accounting for almost 50% of the increase in England and Wales).

The coverage of the firearms collection is wide, covering offences involving serious weapons such as handguns or shotguns as well as less serious weapons such as BB guns and CS gas. While some of the increase in the number of offences involving firearms will be a genuine rise, it is likely that improvements in crime recording will also be a factor. For example, around one-quarter (22%10) of the increase is in offences involving some of these less serious weapons11. It is likely that the police are now including these offences in their returns when previously they were being excluded. Furthermore, 17%12 of the rise is due to an increase in possession of firearms offences with intent. It is possible that previously these offences would have been recorded as simple possession offences, which are not covered by this collection.

Evidence of some genuine increase in offences involving firearms can be seen in admissions data for NHS hospitals in England13, which showed increases in all three categories of assault by firearm discharge14, from 109 admissions in the year ending March 2016 to 135 admissions in the year ending March 2017.

Focus on violent crime and sexual offences, England and Wales: year ending March 2016 has more detailed information on trends and the circumstances of offences involving firearms, including figures based on a broader definition of the types of firearm involved15; however, this does not include the most recent statistics for the year ending March 2017.

Notes for: Police recorded offences involving weapons continue to rise

  1. These are: homicide; attempted murder; threats to kill; assault with injury and assault with intent to cause serious harm; robbery; rape; and sexual assault.

  2. 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.

  3. This number differs from the number previously published due to revisions made to data for the year ending June 2016.

  4. The Focus on violent crime and sexual offences publication includes data on offences involving a knife or sharp instrument going back to the year ending March 2009; however, this excludes data for West Midlands and Sussex due to inconsistencies in their recording practices, which did not change until the year ending March 2011.

  5. This source excludes homicides committed using a knife or sharp instrument.

  6. Data are from NHS Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity, 2015 to 2016 and NHS Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity, 2016 to 2017.

  7. Firearms include: shotguns; handguns; rifles; imitation weapons such as BB guns or soft air weapons; other weapons such as CS gas or pepper spray and stun guns; and unidentified weapons. These figures exclude conventional air weapons, such as air rifles.

  8. A type of air gun that fires spherical projectiles.

  9. Data are not collected from the British Transport Police.

  10. Data not shown.

  11. BB guns, soft air weapons, CS Gas and pepper spray.

  12. Data not shown.

  13. Data are from NHS Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity, 2015 to 2016 and NHS Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity, 2016 to 2017.

  14. Firearm discharge admissions categories are: “assault by handgun discharge”, “assault by rifle, shotgun and larger firearm discharge” and “assault by other and unspecified firearm discharge.”

  15. The broader definition of firearms includes conventional air weapons, such as air rifles.

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12. New and upcoming changes to this bulletin

The briefing note Improving crime statistics for England and Wales – progress update provides an overview of our plans to improve the design, coverage and presentation of crime statistics in England and Wales over the next few years. In addition, details of a number of specific changes are outlined in this section, including new articles focusing on particular crime types, changes to the categorisation of police recorded crime and a consultation on changes to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW).

Changes to the categorisation of police recorded crime

Changes have been made to the subcategories of “violence against the person”.

A new subcategory of “death or serious injury caused by illegal driving” has been created to include the following offence classifications: causing death or serious injury by dangerous driving (4.4), causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs (4.6), causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving (4.8), causing death by driving: unlicensed or disqualified or uninsured drivers (4.9). These offences were previously included within the subcategory of violence with injury.

Another new subcategory of “stalking and harassment” has been created to include the offence classifications of harassment (8L and 8M), stalking (8Q) and the new offence classification of malicious communications (8R), which came into effect from April 2017. Stalking and harassment offences were previously included within the subcategory of violence without injury. It should be noted that with regard to malicious communications, only data for the period April to June 2017 is presented in this bulletin as there was no central collection of this data in the preceding nine months.

Additionally it is anticipated that further changes will be made in future releases to provide a more detailed breakdown of homicide into its constituent categories of murder, manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and infanticide.

Crime Severity Score

Experimental Statistics on a newly developed Crime Severity Score (CSS) have been released for the first time alongside this bulletin. The CSS has been developed as an additional measure to supplement existing Office for National Statistics (ONS) statistics on crime. This new measure weights different types of crime according to severity, with more serious crimes carrying a higher weight in order to better reflect the level of harm to society and demand on the police caused by crime.

Initial research outputs based upon the CSS were published in November 2016, along with a request for feedback from users. This latest release incorporates further methodological developments made in response to user feedback. We intend to issue an updated CSS dataset alongside each quarterly crime statistics bulletin.

Consultation on the Crime Survey for England and Wales

As mentioned in the previous bulletin, due to public sector financial constraints the future level of funding for the CSEW will be reduced with effect from October 2017. After a consultation with our stakeholders and users, it has been decided that the CSEW target response rate will be decreased from 75% to 71% for the period October 2017 to March 2018, along with a decrease of 600 households to the sample size to 34,400. Some questions funded by main stakeholders will be retained, specifically the questions regarding victims’ experiences of the court system, use of victim services and restorative justice. A full breakdown of these changes can be found in the Consultation Paper.

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13. Quality and methodology

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 assure the overall content of the bulletin.

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.

The UK Statistics Authority has designated this statistical bulletin as a National Statistics output, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

However, statistics based on police recorded crime data have been assessed against the Code of Practice for Official Statistics and 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.

Table 5 summarises the strengths and weaknesses of the two main sources of data used in this bulletin.

The Crime in England and Wales Quality and Methodology Information report contains important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data
  • uses and users of the data
  • how the output was created
  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data

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

More information regarding the coverage, coherence and accuracy of the CSEW and police recorded crime can be found in the User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales, the Crime in England and Wales Quality and Methodology Information report and (for CSEW only) the CSEW technical report.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

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