Crime in England and Wales: year ending March 2020

Crime against households and adults, also including data on crime experienced by children, and crimes against businesses and society.

This is the latest release. View previous releases

This is an accredited national statistic.

Contact:
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Release date:
17 July 2020

Next release:
15 October 2020

1. Main points

This publication is largely unaffected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as it mainly relates to the period prior to the lockdown. Further information on the impact can be found in Section 2, Coronavirus and crime statistics in the year ending March 2020.

The level of crime has been broadly stable in recent years, however, the latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimate a significant 9% reduction in the year ending March 2020. Underlying this were significant falls in theft (12%) and criminal damage (13%) and almost all other crime types saw non-significant falls.

It will not be possible to say whether this decrease would have come to represent a change in the trend seen in recent years. This is because of the expected impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown on the level of crime from April 2020 as well as the necessary changes made to the Crime Survey.

Total police recorded crime increased by 3% for the year ending March 2020 in England and Wales (excluding Greater Manchester Police (GMP)). The difference in trend to the CSEW is because rises in total police recorded crime were largely driven by increases in high-volume offence categories including fraud and computer misuse (12%), violence against the person (7%), particularly violence without injury (9%), and stalking and harassment (12%). Trends in these offence types are better measured by the CSEW and, apart from fraud and computer misuse, these offence categories are where improvements in police recording practices are most apparent.

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Police recorded crime data are not a National Statistic, however, they provide a good measure of the crime-related demand on the police but not a reliable measure of all crime. In addition, data for Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have not been included in this release because of issues with their data supply following the implementation of new force IT systems. Any total police recorded crime data refer to England and Wales excluding GMP. For further information see Strengths and limitations.

Trends in police recorded crime data for the lower-volume crimes the survey does not cover or captures less well show a mixed picture with:

  • a 4% decrease in recorded offences involving firearms
  • a 6% increase in the number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments
  • a 10% increase in the overall number of homicides; this includes a single incident with 39 homicide victims1 which, if excluded, shows a 3% increase overall

Many of these lower-volume, higher-harm types of violence tend to be concentrated in metropolitan areas such as London, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire.

While the total number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments in England and Wales (excluding GMP) rose by 6%, rates of increase varied across different regions. For example, there was a 7% increase in London and a 10% decrease in West Yorkshire. In addition, the number of homicides where a knife or sharp instrument was involved increased by 2%. This increase was largely driven by a 28% rise in London (from 67 to 86) whilst the rest of the country saw a 7% decrease in the number of homicides where a knife or a sharp instrument was used.

While the CSEW provides the better indication of overall trends in theft offences, police recorded crime data can help identify short-term changes in individual offences that are thought to be well-reported and relatively well-recorded by the police. Total theft offences recorded by the police decreased by 4% compared with the previous year, although these data show a varied picture with:

  • a 9% decrease in burglary
  • a 10% increase in theft from the person
  • no change in vehicle offences

New in this release

This publication reports on experiences of crime by the victim’s gender identity for the first time, after a new question on gender identity was trialed in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) from 1 October 2019 to 18 March 2020. The data show those people whose gender identity is different from their sex registered at birth were twice as likely (28%) to be a victim of crime (excluding fraud) than those whose gender identity is the same as their sex registered at birth (14%) in the year ending March 2020.

This publication also reports on offences that involved a corrosive substance for the first time. Data for the year ending March 2020 shows that there were 619 violence against the person and robbery offences involving corrosive substances recorded by the police in England and Wales.

Statistician's comment

Commenting on today’s figures, Sophie Sanders from the Office for National Statistics Centre for Crime and Justice said:

“Overall crime rates were lower in the months leading up to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, than they were in early 2019. However, it will not be possible to say whether this would have come to represent a change from the trend in recent years, as the pandemic will have had an impact on the level and types of crime since March. Next month we will be publishing the first analysis of crime statistics affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“In contrast, prior to lockdown, we saw police recorded crime increase. This has been driven, largely, by a rise in high-volume offences including violence without injury, stalking and harassment, and fraud and computer misuse, which, apart from the latter, have been influenced by improvements in recording practices.

“There are also different patterns for specific crimes. For instance, theft from the person increased but burglary decreased.”

Notes for: Main points

  1. In October 2019, the bodies of 39 migrants were found in a lorry in Grays, Essex.
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2. Coronavirus and crime statistics in the year ending March 2020

Today’s publication is largely unaffected by the pause to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Impact to CSEW data

The latest CSEW figures presented in this release are based on interviews conducted between April 2019 and the first two weeks of March 2020, measuring people’s experiences of crime in the 12 months before the interview month. Fieldwork for the year ending March 2020 was suspended two weeks early on Wednesday 18 March 2020 just prior to the lockdown restrictions being announced by the government on 23 March 2020. All estimates from the CSEW for the year ending March 2020 were therefore unaffected by the lockdown restrictions as the data were collected, and relate to, the time prior to this period.

With fieldwork being suspended two weeks earlier than anticipated, the annual sample fell just short of its target of 34,500 adult interviews (the actual figure on which the year to March estimates are based was 33,735 adult interviews). Response rates also fell slightly from a target of 70% to 64%. Overall the impact on the survey estimates has therefore been minimal.

On 20 May 2020, we launched an interim telephone survey to continue collecting vital information on victimisation and the perception and nature of crime during the coronavirus pandemic period and whilst face-to-face interviews are not possible.

Impact to police recorded data

The latest police recorded crime figures presented in this release relate to crimes recorded by the police during the period April 2019 to the end of March 2020. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, restrictions in England and Wales started from 12 March 2020 and lockdown was applied on 23 March 2020, which imposed strict limits on daily life. The start of the restrictions and the first eight days of lockdown are therefore captured in police recorded data for the year ending March 2020. We do not expect there to have been a significant impact on crime statistics in February 2020 or earlier before restrictions were applied in the country.

Comparing the first quarter (January to March) of 2020 with 2019, the level of police recorded crime was 1% lower than the same period in 2019. Analysis of monthly police recorded crime data1 shows the police recorded 379,246 crimes in the month of March 2020 (excluding fraud), a fall of 5% from February 2020 to the lowest monthly level seen in the year ending March 2020. This was an 11% reduction in police recorded crime compared with March 2019. By contrast, January and February 2020 both saw a rise in police recorded crime compared with 2019, with increases of 4% and 6% respectively.

Underlying the fall in police recorded crime from February to March 2020 was a 15% fall in theft offences to 124,706 offences, a 14% fall in sexual offences to 11,655 offences and a 14% fall in robbery offences to 5,795 offences.

These reductions are likely to have been influenced by the restrictions imposed as part of lockdown, including the closure of all but essential retail, although some differences may be the result of normal monthly variation within the crime types.

Provisional data from the National Police Chiefs Council, which looks beyond the end of March, shows the level of police recorded crime has fallen during the lockdown.

We have seen no indication so far that recording practices have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, therefore the fall in recorded crime over this period is likely the result of a fall in both crime experienced and reported to the police.

Overall the impact of the start of the restrictions and the first eight days of the lockdown will have had a marginal effect on the yearly data. Trends in police recorded crime for the year ending March 2020 as a whole are largely unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Our next release in August 2020, Coronavirus and crime in England and Wales, will provide the first insight into the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the nature and perceptions of crime in England and Wales.

Further information on data collection and publications affected by the coronavirus pandemic can be found in the Measuring the data section of this release.

For more detailed figures relating to monthly police recorded crime including time series see Appendix tables.

Notes for: Coronavirus and crime statistics in the year ending March 2020

  1. Monthly police recorded crime data exclude Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
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3. Overall estimates of crime

This bulletin reports on two main sources of crime data; the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and police recorded crime. For further information on these sources see Measuring the data and Strengths and limitations.

The CSEW estimated that over 10.2 million offences were experienced by adults aged 16 years and over in the previous 12 months based on interviews in the year ending March 2020. This was a significant decrease of 9% from the previous year.

The size of decline in the overall level of crime has increased this quarter compared with the year ending December 2019, which saw a 5% decrease, however, it will not be possible to say whether this would have come to represent a change from the broadly stable levels of crime seen in recent years. This is because of the expected impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the lockdown on the level of crime from April 2020 as well as the necessary changes made to the Crime Survey. For more information see Measuring the data.

Likelihood of victimisation

The CSEW also measures the prevalence of crime, with the latest estimates showing that 8 in 10 adults did not experience any of the crimes asked about in the survey in the previous 12 months1. The survey also showed that the crime type adults were most likely to have experienced was fraud and the least likely was robbery.

The CSEW also showed that the likelihood of being a victim of crime varied by demographic factors.

Individuals whose gender identity is different from their sex registered at birth (trans or transgender), were significantly more likely to have been a victim of crime (excluding fraud) in the year ending March 2020. More than 1 in 4 people who were trans (28%) had experienced crime compared with 14% of those whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were registered at birth (cisgender)2,3,4.

When including fraud, there was no significant difference found in the likelihood of individuals who were trans to have experienced crime in the year ending March 2020 compared with individuals who were cisgender. This is likely because demographic characteristics are generally considered to have a more limited impact on the likelihood of having experienced fraud, which is often less targeted. The data excluding fraud therefore present a more accurate picture of the differing likelihood of experiencing crime by demographic characteristics.

People of a White ethnic background were the least likely to have experienced crime (excluding fraud) in the year ending March 2020, at 13%, whilst people of Mixed or Multiple ethnic backgrounds were the most likely to have experienced crime, with 20% having experienced crime in the same period. People of an Asian ethnic background were also significantly more likely to have experienced crime in the year ending March 2020 than those of a White ethnic background, with 15% having experienced crime in the last year. There were no other significant differences in the likelihood of being a victim of crime between ethnic groups.

Other demographic characteristics including age, sexual orientation, disability status and religion also showed significant differences in the likelihood of having experienced crime (excluding fraud) in the year ending March 2020:

  • the likelihood of being a victim of crime decreased with age, with 18% of 16- to 24-year-olds having been a victim of crime and 5% of those aged 75 years or older having been a victim of crime
  • people who identified as Heterosexual or Straight were less likely to have experienced crime (14%) than those who identified as Gay or Lesbian (21%) or those who identified as Bisexual (21%)
  • people with a disability5 were slightly more likely to have experienced crime (14%) than people who did not have a disability (13%)
  • Christians were less likely to have experienced crime (11%) than those with No Religion (15%) and Muslims (17%)

For more information, see the annual trend and demographic tables.

Overall trends in police recorded crime

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Improvements to recording processes and practices by the police have made substantial contributions to rises in recorded crime over the last five years. This effect has been more pronounced for some crime types, and for many types of offence, these figures do not provide reliable trends in crime

The police recorded 5.8 million crimes in England and Wales (excluding Greater Manchester Police6 ) in the year ending March 2020. These data provide a good measure of the crime-related demand on the police but are not a measure of overall crime or changes in the level of overall crime. Rises seen over recent years indicate a different trend to the CSEW, and reflect a combination of factors, including improvements to police recording processes and practices, expansion of the recorded crime collection to include new offences, variations in police activity, more victims reporting crime, and genuine increases in some types of crime.

The Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) report on the State of Policing 2019 provides insight into the improvements in police recording practices over recent years. The report estimates that “because of better recording standards, and compared with the findings of our 2014 inspection, forces recorded around 570,000 more crimes during 2019”.

The CSEW and police recorded data can be used together to develop a more complete picture of crime. The CSEW data show a decrease in the high-volume crimes that individuals were the most likely to be the victims of in the year ending March 2020. This is consistent with the long-term downward trend in CSEW crime estimates. However, the police recorded crime data show small increases in low-volume and high-harm crimes in the last year, which the CSEW does not cover or captures less well, including offences involving knives or sharp instruments and homicide.

Figure 4: Overview of the main crime types

England and Wales, year ending March 2020

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Source: Office for National Statistics – Crime Survey for England and Wales, Home Office - Police recorded crime

Notes:

  1. Data on violence, theft, fraud and computer misuse are from the Crime Survey for England and Wales and relate to adults aged 16 years and over.
  2. Data on homicide, knife or sharp instrument offences, burglary, vehicle offences and robbery are from police recorded crime.
  3. Police recorded crime data are not designated as National Statistics.
  4. Police recorded crime data for the year ending March 2020 and 2019 exclude Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
  5. Data on knife or sharp instrument offences exclude GMP for the whole timeseries back to the year ending March 2011.

Notes for: Overall estimates of crime

  1. This figure excludes domestic abuse and sexual assault measured by the self-completion module of the survey. Any domestic violence reported in the face-to-face interview is included.

  2. Estimates of the likelihood of being a victim of crime for those whose gender identity is different from their sex at birth (trans or transgender) are based on a small base size of 63 and are therefore subject to lower reliability.

  3. The term “cisgender” is used to describe those whose gender identity is aligned with the sex they were registered at birth. Cisgender includes male when registered male at birth and female when registered female at birth.

  4. A question on gender identity was added to the self-completion module in October 2019. Estimates are therefore based on six months of data collection to year ending March 2020.

  5. The definition of disability used is consistent with the core definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010. A person is considered to have a disability if they have a long-standing illness, disability or impairment which causes difficulty with day-to-day activities.

  6. Police recorded crime data for Greater Manchester Police are not included in this release because of issues with their data supply following the implementation of new IT systems.

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4. Violent crime

For the offences and population that it covers, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) provides the best measure of trends for overall violent crime; particularly for the more common but less harmful offences (for example, assault with minor injury).

There were 1.2 million incidents of violence estimated by the CSEW for the survey year ending March 2020. This figure has not changed significantly since the year ending March 2016, continuing the stable trend seen in recent years.

Within violence, the only crime type to see a significant change was assault with minor injury, which fell by 35% to 250,000 offences in the year ending March 2020. As this is the lowest volume crime type within violence, this fall did not have an effect on violence overall.

The longer-term reductions in CSEW violent crime are reflected in research conducted by the Violence Research Group at Cardiff University (PDF, 652KB), and also in admissions data for NHS hospitals1 in England.

Estimates of violence against children aged 10 to 15 years, as measured by the CSEW, can be found in Appendix Tables A9, A10, A11 and A12. The estimates are not directly comparable with the main survey of adults, so are not included in the headline totals.

For more detailed figures relating to violent crime including time series see Appendix tables.

Notes for Violent crime

  1. Please see the “External causes” datasets within Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity 2018 to 2019 for assault admissions.
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5. Homicide

The police recorded 683 homicides in England and Wales (excluding Greater Manchester Police1) in the year ending March 2020, a 10% increase (from 623) compared with the previous year. Since 2002, homicide had generally been declining, although in recent years numbers have been similar to levels seen around ten years ago.

The latest figure for homicides includes 39 people whose bodies were found in a lorry in Grays, Essex in October 2019. Without this homicide incident, the number of victims would have risen by 3%. The figures also include a 23% increase (from 115 to 142) recorded by the Metropolitan Police Service in the latest year. The rate of homicide in the population remains very low, at 12 per 1 million people.

Of all recorded homicides in the latest year, 39% involved a knife or sharp instrument, slightly less than 41% the previous year. Whilst the proportion decreased, the number of homicides where a knife or sharp instrument was involved increased by 2% in the year ending March 2020 (from 250 to 256 offences). The number of homicides involving the use of a knife or sharp instrument in London increased from 67 to 86, a 28% increase.

For the latest headline figures relating to homicide and more detailed figures including time series see Appendix tables and Other related tables. For Police Force Area breakdowns see Police Force Area data tables.  

Notes for: Homicide

  1. Police recorded crime data for Greater Manchester Police are not included in this release because of issues with their data supply following the implementation of new IT systems.
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6. Knife or sharp instrument offences

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Figures for offences involving knives or sharp instruments continue to exclude Greater Manchester Police (GMP) because of issues with their data supply following the implementation of new force IT systems. Any total figures refer to England and Wales excluding GMP.

Police recorded crime provides a better measure of higher-harm but less common types of violence than the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), such as those involving a knife or sharp instrument.

Figures for the year ending March 2020 showed a 6% rise in offences involving knives or sharp instruments recorded by the police in the latest year to 46,2651. Offences involving knives or sharp instruments have been experiencing a rising trend since the year ending March 2014, although in recent years the rate of increase has slowed. However, the latest year was 51% higher than when comparable recording began in 2011 and is the highest on record.

In the latest year, the offences “assault with injury and assault with intent to cause serious harm” and robbery each accounted for 44% of all offences involving a knife or sharp instrument (20,333 and 20,159 offences respectively).

The change in the number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments in the latest year varied by police force area. For example, looking at the three areas with the highest rate per 100,000 population:

  • London2 saw a 7% increase
  • West Midlands saw no change
  • West Yorkshire saw a decrease of 10%

Figure 8: Offence rates and changes in the volume of crimes involving knives or sharp instruments vary by police force area

England and Wales, year ending March 2020

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Notes:

  1. Police recorded crime data are not designated as National Statistics.
  2. One police force (Surrey) include unbroken bottle and glass offences in their returns, which are outside the scope of this special collection. As such, data for these forces are not directly comparable with data for other forces.
  3. Data from Greater Manchester Police are not included in this chart.
  4. The changes presented are the percentage changes in the volume of offences involving a knife or sharp instrument over the last year.

Download the data

Knife or sharp instrument offences continue to be concentrated in metropolitan areas across England and Wales with around a third (34%) of all offences recorded by the police in London. The highest rate was also seen in London, with 179 offences per 100,000 population. This compared with an England and Wales average of 82 offences per 100,000 population.

Other sources of data

Other sources of data can help to provide different insights into offences involving knives or sharp instruments. For example, rises in the number of offences involving a knife or sharp instrument can also be seen in the knife and offensive weapon sentencing for England and Wales publication by the Ministry of Justice. While these figures cover a different period to those presented in this bulletin, they show that, in the year ending September 2019, the criminal justice system formally dealt with the highest number of knife and offensive weapon offences since 2009.

Police recorded “possession of an article with a blade or point”3 offences similarly rose by 3% to 21,095 offences in the year ending March 2020, a continuation of the recent rising trend. Trends in this offence have been influenced by increases in targeted police action, such as the recent rise in stop and searches4, which typically follow rises in offences involving knives or sharp instruments. Data related to stop and searches can be found in the Home Office publication Police powers and procedures.

Although for a different time period, the latest available provisional admissions data for NHS hospitals in England reported 2,385 admissions for assault by a sharp object between April 2019 and September 2019. This was, a decrease of 10% compared with the period between April 2018 and September 2018, which suggests although offences of this type appear to have increased, fewer people presented in hospital over this period.

For data relating to offences involving knives or sharp instruments see Other related tables, for geographic breakdowns see Police Force Area data tables and for sharp instrument homicides see Appendix tables: homicide in England and Wales.

Notes for: Knife or sharp instrument offences

  1. Police recorded crime data for Greater Manchester Police are not included in this release because of issues with their data supply following the implementation of new IT systems.

  2. Includes the Metropolitan and City of London Police Force Areas

  3. Offences of “possession of an article with a blade or point” are covered separately by a specific recorded crime category.

  4. In August 2019, a pilot easing restrictions around emergency stop and search powers was extended to all 43 police forces in England and Wales.

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7. Offences involving firearms

Firearms offences recorded by police in England and Wales (excluding Greater Manchester Police1) saw a 4% decrease in the year ending March 2020 compared with the previous year (to 6,200 offences).

Decreases were seen in offences involving handguns (from 2,646 to 2,512, 5%), shotguns (from 649 to 624, 4%) and unidentified firearms2 (from 1,039 to 847, 19%). However, increases were seen in rifles (from 67 to 72, 7%), imitation firearms3 (from 1,364 to 1,398, 2%) and other firearms4 (from 695 to 747, 7%). For imitation firearms and other firearms, which are less serious weapon types, improvements in crime recording will have contributed to some of these increases, with police recording these offences when they would previously have been excluded.

Detailed data for the year ending March 2019 were released in Offences involving the use of weapons: data tables in February 2020. For data relating to offences involving firearms see Other related tables.

As part of the government’s Serious Violence Strategy and action plan to tackle corrosive attacks, the Home Office began collecting data on selected offences that involved a corrosive substance on a mandatory basis from April 2019. Data for the year ending March 2020 show that there were 619 violence against the person and robbery offences recorded by the police in England and Wales that involved a corrosive substance.

Notes for: Offences involving firearms

  1. Police recorded crime data for Greater Manchester Police are not included in this release because of issues with their data supply following the implementation of new IT systems.

  2. The police will record which type of weapon has been used in an offence, given the evidence available. If the police do not have sufficient information about the type of firearm used in the offence, then it will be recorded as an “unidentified firearm”.

  3. Imitation firearms include replica weapons, as well as low-powered weapons that fire small plastic pellets, such as BB guns and soft air weapons.

  4. Other firearms include CS gas or pepper spray, stun guns and other weapons.

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8. Other types of violence

For some types of crime, increases in the number of police recorded offences are largely because of recording improvements or more victims reporting, rather than a genuine rise in crime.

The effect has been particularly pronounced for some types of violence such as sexual offences, stalking and harassment, and offences flagged as domestic abuse-related. There is some evidence, however, that recording improvements are starting to have a smaller impact on these crime types, for example, for rape.

Over the last seven years, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) have conducted a range of inspections related to police forces’ crime and incident recording practices. In 2014, Crime recording: making the victim count concluded that 33% of cases involving violence and 26% of sexual offences were not recorded by the police in England and Wales. Improvements in both of these areas have been identified in their report State of policing: 2019, with 12% of violent offences and 6% of sexual offences reported to the police going unrecorded.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) provides a better picture of the overall trend in violent crime and a more reliable measure of the long-term trends in sexual assault, stalking and harassment, and domestic abuse.

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Sexual offences and domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by the police do not provide a reliable measure of trends in these types of crime. Improvements in police recording practices and increased reporting by victims have contributed to increases in recent years, although this effect is thought to be gradually receding. The figures do, however, provide a good measure of the crime-related demand on the police.

Domestic abuse

Estimates from the CSEW showed that 6.1% of adults aged 16 to 59 years experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2020, no significant change from the previous year. There has been little change in the prevalence of domestic abuse in recent years. However, the cumulative effect of small year-on-year changes has resulted in a small, significantly lower prevalence for the year ending March 2020 (6.1%), compared with the year ending March 2005 (8.9%).

In the year ending March 2020 in England and Wales (excluding Greater Manchester Police1), there was an 8% increase in the total number of domestic abuse-related offences compared with the year ending March 2019 (to 756,968 offences). This increase is thought to reflect factors related to reporting and recording and does not provide a reliable indication of current trends.

Further information and data related to domestic abuse can be found in Domestic abuse in England and Wales overview: November 2019.

Sexual assault

Estimates from the CSEW for the year ending March 2020 showed that 2.2% of adults aged 16 to 59 years had experienced sexual assault (including attempted offences) in the latest year. This was a significant decrease compared with the previous year (2.9%), driven by the significant decrease in indecent exposure or unwanted sexual touching (2.5% in the year ending March 2019 compared with 1.9% in the year ending March 2020). Prior to this, from the year ending March 2014, there had been a rise in the prevalence of sexual assault estimated by the survey.

The number of sexual offences recorded by the police showed little change from the previous year (from 154,213 to 154,113 offences). The year ending March 2020 was the first year since 2012 with no increase. Rape was also seen to fall slightly from 55,771 to 55,130 offences for the year ending March 2020. This may suggest that the influence of improvements in recording practices for this particular offence is diminishing.

For a subset of forces providing data to the Home Office Data Hub2, 23% of sexual offences recorded by the police in the year ending March 2020 were non-recent offences (those that took place more than 12 months before being recorded by the police). While non-recent offences were an important contributor to rises in police recorded sexual offences in previous years, in the latest year, reports of non-recent offences have decreased and are therefore no longer contributing to an overall increase in sexual offences.

Other data related to sexual offences can be found in Sexual offending: victimisation and the path through the criminal justice system.

For more detailed figures relating to violent crime including a time series see Appendix tables.

CSEW data on the prevalence of domestic abuse, sexual assault and stalking can be found Table S42 in Annual supplementary tables.

For more information about HMICFRS and Inspections of police recorded crime and incident data quality see our User guide.

Notes for: Other types of violence

  1. Police recorded crime data for Greater Manchester Police are not included in this release because of issues with their data supply following the implementation of new IT systems.

  2. The Home Office Data Hub is a live database that allows police forces to provide the Home Office with record-level information on every crime recorded in a year.

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11. Criminal damage and arson

Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimates of criminal damage offences fell by 13% to just under 1 million offences in the year ending March 2020. This reversed the increase seen last year and continues the longer-term downward trend in criminal damage.

The subcategory “criminal damage to a vehicle” shows a 17% decrease, which continues the general downward trend in these offences seen over the last 10 years. The latest figure (675,000 offences) was less than half the volume it was in the year ending December 1995 (1.8 million offences).

For the latest headline figures relating to criminal damage and more detailed figures including time series data see Appendix tables.

Additional demographic data from the CSEW related to criminal damage can be found in Property crime tables.

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12. Fraud

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) provides the best measure of fraud offences experienced by adults in England and Wales. In the year ending March 2020, the estimated number of fraud incidents was 3.7 million offences. This did not change significantly from the previous year (3.8 million offences). Individual fraud types showed no significant change other than the low volume category of “Other fraud”, which increased by 48% (to 227,000).

Fraud offences referred to the authorities make up a relatively small proportion of the overall volume of such crime. The CSEW captures a large volume of lower-harm cases that are less likely to have been reported to the authorities. Incidents of fraud referred to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) will include reports from businesses and other organisations, which are not included in the CSEW, and tend to be focused on the more serious cases. Because of such large differences in coverage between the CSEW and what is reported to the NFIB it is difficult to make meaningful comparisons between the two sources1.

Reported fraud offences are recorded and collated by the NFIB from Action Fraud (the public-facing national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre) and two industry bodies, Cifas and UK Finance (who report instances of fraud where their member organisations have been a victim). Latest figures showed a 12% increase in the total number of fraud and computer misuse offences referred to the NFIB2 in the year ending March 2020 (774,541 offences) compared with the previous year (693,421 offences).

All three fraud reporting bodies: Action Fraud, Cifas, and UK Finance, reported increases in the latest year. Action Fraud reported a 9% rise (to 338,255 offences), Cifas reported a 7% rise (to 334,297 offences) and UK Finance reported a 47% rise (to 101,989 offences). These increases need to be interpreted in the context of differences in coverage and fraud types captured by each reporting body.

Additional fraud data collected by UK Finance provide a broader range of bank account and plastic card frauds than those referred for police investigation to the NFIB. In the latest year, UK Finance reported 2.8 million cases of frauds involving UK-issued payment cards, remote banking and cheques via their recording system, CAMIS. This was a 1% decrease from the previous year.

For the latest headline figures relating to fraud and for more detailed figures including time series data see Appendix tables and Other related tables. 

Notes for: Fraud

  1. More information can be found in the Nature of fraud and computer misuse in England and Wales: year ending March 2019.

  2. For the year ending March 2020, a portion of the records supplied to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau by UK Finance has not been successfully ingested by the NFIB system because of validation errors. The NFIB is working with UK Finance to ensure that all records are successfully processed.

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13. Computer misuse

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) provides the better indication of the volume of computer misuse offences experienced by the adult population as it captures incidents that go unreported to the police. This can be seen by the large difference in the volume of computer misuse offences between the two sources, which also cannot be compared because of differences in coverage.

In the year ending March 2020, CSEW-estimated computer misuse offences did not change from the previous year, remaining at around 900,000 offences.

There were 26,215 offences referred to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) by Action Fraud (the public-facing national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre) in the same period, an increase of 23% from the year ending March 2019.

This increase was driven by large increases in the two highest-volume computer misuse types reported to Action Fraud. “Hacking – Social media and email” saw a 55% increase from 8,340 to 12,894 offences and computer viruses/malware saw a 61% increase from 4,177 to 6,745 offences.

Improvements by Action Fraud to both internal case review processes and their online reporting tool in October 2018 have resulted in some computer misuse offences now being more accurately classified as fraud offences.

For the latest headline figures relating to computer misuse and for more detailed figures see Appendix tables and Other related tables.

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14. Crime data

Crime in England and Wales: Appendix tables
Dataset | Released on 17 July 2020
Trends in Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) crime experienced by adults and children aged 10 to 15 years and police recorded crime, by offence type. Also includes trends in offender relationship of CSEW violence.

Crime in England and Wales: Other related tables
Dataset | Released on 17 July 2020
Data tables include those on firearms, and knife and sharp instrument offences. The data contained in these tables are from four sources: Crime Survey for England and Wales, police recorded crime, fraud data from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and figures from the Ministry of Justice Criminal Justice Statistics.

Crime in England and Wales: Police Force Area data tables
Dataset | Released on 17 July 2020
Data from police recorded crime. Shows the number of police recorded crimes, percentage change from previous year and rate per 1,000 population by offence group, and knife and sharp instrument offences by Police Force Area.

Recorded crime data by Community Safety Partnership area
Dataset | Released on 17 July 2020
Recorded crime figures for Community Safety Partnership areas, which equate in the majority of instances to local authorities. Contains the number of offences for the last two years, percentage change between these two time periods and rates per 1,000 population for the latest year.

Crime in England and Wales: Annual supplementary tables
Dataset | Released on 17 July 2020
Data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales on perceptions of the police, criminal justice system, crime and anti-social behaviour. Also contains data on prevalence of intimate personal violence.

Crime in England and Wales: Annual trend and demographic tables
Dataset | Released on 17 July 2020
Data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales showing breakdowns of victimisation over time and by various demographic characteristics.

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15. Glossary

Arson

Arson is the act of deliberately setting fire to property, including buildings and vehicles.

Computer misuse

When fraudsters hack or use computer viruses or malware to disrupt services, obtain information illegally or extort individuals or organisations.

Criminal damage

Criminal damage results from any person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another, intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged.

Fraud

Fraud involves a person dishonestly and deliberately deceiving a victim for personal gain of property or money, or causing loss or risk of loss to another. The majority of incidents fall under the legal definition of “Fraud by false representation” – where a person makes a representation that they know to be untrue or misleading (for example, banking and payment card frauds and dating scams). Crime Survey for England and Wales estimates cover a broad range of fraud offences, including attempts, involving a loss and incidents not reported to the authorities.

Homicide

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

Knife or sharp instrument offences

An offence is recorded by the police as involving a knife or sharp instrument when the weapon is present during the offence or the threat is believed to be real. The weapon does not necessarily have to be used. These data are based on a special collection that includes the offences: homicide; attempted murder; threats to kill; assault with injury and assault with intent to cause serious harm; robbery; rape; and sexual assault.

Offences involving firearms

Offences involving a firearm include those where a firearm is fired, used as a blunt instrument, or used as a threat. Firearms include shotguns; handguns; rifles; imitation weapons such as BB guns or soft air weapons; other weapons such as CS gas, pepper spray and stun guns; and unidentified weapons. They exclude conventional air weapons, such as air rifles.

Overall theft offences

Crime Survey for England and Wales theft offences include all personal and household crime where items are stolen, including theft from the person; other theft of personal property; domestic burglary; vehicle-related theft; and bicycle theft.

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. Mugging is an informal term for robbery. In this bulletin we use the term “robbery”.

Violent crime

Covers a range of offence types from minor assaults, such as pushing and shoving that result in no physical harm, to murder. This includes offences where the victim was intentionally stabbed, punched, kicked, pushed or jostled, as well as offences where the victim was threatened with violence, regardless of injury.

More information and further definitions can be found in the “offence type” section of the User guide to crime statistics for England and Wales.

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16. Measuring the data

Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW)

The CSEW is a face-to-face victimisation survey, which asks people resident in households in England and Wales about their experiences of a selected range of offences in the 12 months prior to the interview.

Putting the safety of the public first, we have suspended all face-to-face interviewing on the CSEW to minimise social contact as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Fieldwork for the year to March 2020 was suspended two weeks early on Wednesday 18 March 2020 just prior to the lockdown restrictions being announced by the government on 23 March 2020. Estimates for the year to March presented in this publication are therefore unaffected by the lockdown restrictions.

On 20 May 2020, we launched an interim telephone survey (TCSEW) based on a reduced set of questions usually collected through the face-to-face CSEW.

The first release of TCSEW data, which will be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, will be available in the ‘Coronavirus and the impact on crime in England and Wales’ publication in August.

Further information on future publications can be found in the Improving crime statistics for England and Wales – progress update: July 2020.

Police recorded crime

Police recorded crime data are supplied to us by the Home Office, who are responsible for the collation of recorded crime data supplied by the 43 territorial police forces of England and Wales, plus the British Transport Police. These data are supplied to the Home Office on a monthly basis in an aggregated return for each crime within the notifiable offence list.

For some types of crime, because of ongoing changes in police recording practices, an increase in the number of offences recorded by the police is unlikely to indicate a real rise in these types of crime. Police recorded crime data are not designated as National Statistics. Details of concerns over the quality of these data are in the UK Statistics Authority most recent assessment report.

More information on both these sources can be found in the User guide to crime statistics for England and Wales.

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Crime in England and Wales QMI.

Other crime statistics and the wider criminal justice system

In this bulletin we present the latest crime figures and trends. It provides a general overview, with more detailed discussion for certain types of crime where findings need a fuller explanation. If you are looking for a more in-depth analysis of specific types of offences, you may be interested in other articles and research that we produce throughout the year. To access these articles, see our main crime and justice webpage.

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. This wider context includes statistics on: the outcomes 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 the Ministry of Justice. We have produced a flowchart showing the connections between the different aspects of crime and justice, as well as the statistics available for each area. Statistics in this bulletin are used to help monitor progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Explore the UK data on our SDGs reporting platform.

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17. Strengths and limitations

Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW)

The CSEW is a large nationally representative sample survey that has used a consistent methodology over time. The survey covers crimes not reported to the police and is not affected by changes in police recording practice; therefore, it is a reliable measure of long-term trends.

The CSEW does not cover crimes against businesses and those not resident in households (for example, residents of institutions and visitors). Headline estimates exclude offences that are difficult to estimate robustly (such as sexual offences) or that have no victim who can be interviewed (for example, homicides and drug offences). In addition, the survey is subject to error associated with sampling and respondents recalling past events. Potential time lag between occurrence of the crime and survey data collection means that the survey is not a good measure of emerging trends.

Police recorded crime

Police recorded crime has wider offence coverage and population coverage than the CSEW. It is the primary source of local crime statistics and is a good measure of offences that are well-reported to and well-recorded by the police, as well as lower volume crimes (for example, homicide). In addition, the time lag between occurrence of crime and reporting results tends to be short, providing an indication of emerging trends.

On the other hand, police recorded crime excludes offences that are not reported to, or not recorded by, the police and does not include less serious offences dealt with by magistrates’ courts (for example, motoring offences). Trends can be influenced by changes in recording practices or police activity as well as public reporting of crime, making it difficult to make long-term comparisons. There are also concerns about the quality of recording and that crime is not recorded consistently across police forces.

Issues with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) recorded crime data

Following the implementation of a new IT system in July 2019, GMP have been unable to provide police recorded crime data since that time. This issue is ongoing and will also affect next quarter’s data.

In order to allow for accurate comparisons across the years, data for GMP have been excluded from all the police recorded crime data and tables presented in this bulletin for the years ending March 2020 and March 2019.

Data including GMP (excluding the months July 2019 to March 2020) are published by the Home Office in Police recorded crime open data Police Force Area tables from year ending March 2013 onwards.

Data on offences involving knives or sharp instruments in England and Wales currently exclude GMP for the whole time series back to the year ending March 2011. In addition to the IT system implementation issue, which impacts data from July 2019 onwards, GMP data for previous time periods are affected by a separate technical issue. A review by GMP in March 2017 revealed an undercount of crimes involving a knife or sharp instrument. Following implementation of a subsequent methodological change in January 2018, data for GMP are not comparable over time.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Nick Stripe
crimestatistics@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7592 8695