Crime in England and Wales: year ending September 2018

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

This is not the latest release. View latest release

This is an accredited national statistic.

Contact:
Email Meghan Elkin

Release date:
24 January 2019

Next release:
25 April 2019

1. Main points

Over recent decades we’ve seen continued falls in overall levels of crime but in the last year there has been no change. The overall figure covers a broad range of crimes and hides variation within different crime types. Over the last year we’ve seen rises in vehicle offences, robbery, and some lower-volume but higher-harm types of violence. We’ve seen decreases in computer misuse, burglary and shoplifting.

Headline figures

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) provides the best overview of long-term changes in theft offences, with the latest estimates showing no significant change. For crime types thought to be well-reported and accurately recorded, police recorded crime data can help identify short-term changes. In the last few years, the police recorded series has been showing increases in many types of offences involving theft but the latest figures show a mixed picture:

  • a 3% increase in vehicle offences, due largely to a 10% increase in the subcategory of “Theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle”

  • a 17% increase in robbery offences, continuing increases seen in previous years

  • a 1% decrease in burglary, following increases in recent years

  • a 1% decrease in shoplifting, following a longer period of increases

There has been no change in commonly occurring types of violent crime. Our assessment from the CSEW is that the level of lower-harm violent offences (for example, violence without injury, assault with minor injury) is stable. However, police recorded crime and NHS data give more insight into the lower-volume but higher-harm violence that the survey does not capture well. These data sources show:

  • an 8% increase1 in the number of police recorded offences involving knives or sharp instruments

  • a 15% increase in the number of admissions to hospital in England for assaults involving a sharp instrument

  • a 14% increase in the number of homicides

  • a 4% decrease in the number of police recorded offences involving firearms

Many of these lower-volume, higher-harm types of violence tend to be concentrated in London and other metropolitan areas.

The only main crime type measured by the survey that showed a change in the latest year was computer misuse. It decreased by 33%.

Following a public consultation, in November 2016 we announced a methodological change to the handling of repeat victimisation in the CSEW2. This bulletin is the first release of data implementing this change. The change has not affected the long-term picture of trends in crime and the total number of victims of crime is almost identical. However, the change has resulted in an increased estimated number of incidents across the entire time series. As the revised time series back to 1981 has been published today, estimates published in previous bulletins are not comparable with those released today. For more information see Things you need to know about this release.

Important points for interpreting figures in this bulletin

  • An increase in the number of crimes recorded by the police does not necessarily mean the level of crime has increased.

  • For many types of crime, police recorded crime statistics do not provide a reliable measure of levels or trends in crime as they only cover crimes that come to the attention of the police.

  • Police recorded crime can be affected by changes in policing activity and recording practice and by willingness of victims to report.

  • The CSEW does not cover crimes against businesses or those not resident in households and is not well-suited to measuring trends in some of the more harmful crimes that occur in relatively low volumes.

  • For offences that are well recorded by the police, police figures provide a useful supplement to the survey and provide insight into areas that the survey does not cover well.

Notes for: Main points

  1. This figure excludes Greater Manchester Police.
  2. This includes a small change to the survey weights methodology.
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2. Latest figures

A summary of the latest figures for a selection of different crime types is given in Table 1, using the most appropriate data source for each. More detailed analysis and commentary by crime type is provided in Sections 6 to 12 of this bulletin.

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3. Statistician’s comment

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

“In recent decades we’ve seen the overall level of crime falling, but in the last year, it remained level. There are variations within this overall figure, depending on the type of crime. Burglary, shoplifting and computer misuse are decreasing but others, such as vehicle offences and robbery are rising. We have also seen increases in some types of “lower-volume, high-harm” violence including offences involving knives or sharp instruments.”

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4. Things you need to know about this release

Improving the treatment of high-frequency repeat victimisation on the Crime Survey

This bulletin is the first release of data following a methodological change to the handling of repeat victimisation in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). Repeat victimisation is defined as the same thing, done under the same circumstances, probably by the same people, against the same victim.

Since the survey began in 1981, “repeat” incidents have been limited to a total of five in survey estimates. This approach enabled the publication of incident rates that were not subject to large fluctuation between survey years. Following criticism of this methodology, we commissioned an independent review and ran a user consultation on the issues associated with measuring high-frequency repeat victimisation in the CSEW.

The results of the consultation were presented at the National Statistician’s Crime Statistics Advisory Committee in September 2016. Based on advice from the Committee and the consultation responses received, in November 2016 we published our response. This was followed by a methodological note in October 2017, which outlined additional details of how we would be implementing the new methodology.

Through this work, we decided to drop the current cap of five and replace this limit with the 98th percentile. The new methodology also includes a small refinement to the design weights. The entire CSEW time series going back to 1981 has been revised under the new methodology. As such, data published today are not comparable with data contained in previous bulletins. Users should not use releases published before January 2019 for data on the number of incidents from the CSEW.

Using this new methodology, there has been no impact on the long-term picture of total crime. However, the number of incidents for all CSEW crime are slightly higher across the entire time series than previously published. Since the year to March 2002 CSEW, the average increase in total CSEW crime (excluding fraud and computer misuse) was 2.8%.

For most crime types, the estimated number of incidents is unaffected. The increases to the number of incidents are seen primarily in violent offences, where since the year to March 2002 CSEW, estimates have increased between 6.4% and 31.6%. This is due to repeat incidents being more common in violent offences.

Changes to the way in which repeat incidents are calculated do not affect the number of victims of crime. However, small changes made to the design weights had a marginal effect on all estimates calculated by the survey. For example, for the year to March 2018 CSEW, the estimated number of victims of violent crime increased by 0.4%.

More information on this change can be found in Improving estimates of repeat victimisation derived from the Crime Survey for England and Wales and a summary of this method change is published in a slide pack alongside this bulletin.

Due to the volume of revisions following this change, a number of tables that would have normally accompanied our annual, year ending March 2018, bulletin were delayed. Specifically, there are several tables in the Annual Trend and Demographic collection and the Additional tables on Fraud and Cybercrime that were not updated until the changes were implemented. These tables have now been published alongside this bulletin.

How do we measure crime?

Crime covers a wide range of offences, from the most harmful such as murder and rape through to more minor incidents of criminal damage or petty theft. In general, the most serious crimes tend to be relatively low in volume and trends in total crime are often mainly influenced by changes in the levels of higher volume but less harmful crimes. Crime is often hidden and different types of offence occur in different circumstances and at different frequencies. This means crime can never be measured entirely by any single source.

Sources included

This bulletin reports on two main sources of crime data: the 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. Where possible, we refer to other sources of data or statistics to support our findings.

Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW)

The CSEW is a face-to-face victimisation survey. People resident in households in England and Wales are asked about their experiences of a selected range of offences in the 12 months prior to the interview. More information on the methodology can be found in the Crime in England and Wales Quality and Methodology Information report.

The CSEW is our most reliable indicator for long-term trends, particularly for the more common types of crime experienced by the general population. In comparison with police recorded crime, it is unaffected by changes in reporting rates or police activity and it includes crimes that do not come to the attention of the police.

The CSEW does not cover crimes against businesses or those not resident in households (for example, short-term visitors, or people living in institutions – such as care homes). It also excludes homicides and crimes that are termed “victimless”, such as possession of drugs. The CSEW is not well-suited to measuring trends in some of the more harmful crimes that occur in relatively low volumes. This is because estimates of less frequently-occurring crime types can be subject to substantial variability from one time period to another, making it difficult to interpret short-term trends.

All changes reported in this bulletin, based on the CSEW, are statistically significant at the 5% level unless stated otherwise. When we say that a change in crime is statistically significant, we are confident that the change indicated by the data would occur at least 19 times out of 20 if we carried out the same survey on different random samples of the population.

For more information about crimes identified by the CSEW, see Overview of crime.

Police recorded crime

Police recorded crime is the number of notifiable1 crimes reported to and recorded by the police.

For types of crime that are well-reported and accurately recorded, police data can provide a valuable measure of trends. These data also provide an insight into the demands being made on the police and are useful in assessing how caseload has changed both in volume and nature over time.

However, police recorded crime statistics do not always provide a reliable measure of levels or trends for many types of crime. This is because not all crimes are reported to the police. For example, victims may be reluctant to report a crime because it seems too trivial, or not worth reporting. In contrast, other crimes, such as thefts, may be more likely to be reported if they require a crime reference number to be issued by the police, to support an insurance claim.

Furthermore, police recorded figures can be affected by changes in recording practices. Some types of crime are less affected by changes in recording practices. In these cases, police figures can be a useful supplement to the CSEW by providing a measure that better covers the more harmful, less frequently-occurring offences that the survey does not cover well.

However, due to wider concerns over the quality and consistency of crime recording, police recorded crime data were assessed against the Code of Practice for Official Statistics in 2014 (now the Code of Practice for Statistics) and found not to meet the required standard for designation as National Statistics2.

Since then, there has been an increased focus on improving recording practices, which has led to a greater proportion of reported crimes being recorded by the police3. For this reason, an increase in the number of crimes recorded by the police does not necessarily mean the level of crime has increased. Inspection reports4 from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) suggest that some offences, including sexual offences, are still significantly under-recorded by the police5. Despite this, the most recent Annual Assessment from HMICFRS recognises that police forces are making improvements to their recording practices.

For more information about crimes recorded by the police, see What’s happened to the volume of crime recorded by the police?

Information on why the CSEW and police recorded crime figures can sometimes show differing trends is published in the methodological note Why do the two data sources show differing trends? More detailed information about CSEW and police recorded crime is available in both the Quality and methodology section and in our User guide to crime statistics for England and Wales.

Time periods covered

The latest CSEW figures presented in this release are based on interviews conducted between October 2017 and September 2018, 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 September 2018 (between October 2017 and September 2018). A “snapshot” of police recorded crime data for the year ending September 2018 was taken on 29 November 2018 to ensure the data do not change during the analysis period6.

In this release:

  • “latest year” (or “latest survey year”) refers to the (survey) year ending September 2018

  • “previous year” (or “previous survey year”) refers to the (survey) year ending September 2017

  • any other time period is referred to explicitly

Our bulletins are produced every quarter, based on rolling data. This means that there is an overlap of data from one bulletin to the next. For example, the time period covered in our last bulletin was July 2017 to June 2018. Our current bulletin uses some of these data (from October 2017 to June 2018) and adds in new data gathered between July and September 2018. As a result, many findings do not change greatly between quarterly bulletins.

Useful crime terms

Certain terms used to describe crime data within this bulletin can often be confused with other, related definitions. In particular, it is useful to know that:

  • homicide includes murder, manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and infanticide; in the bulletin, we focus on homicide as a whole

  • the bulletin refers to firearms rather than the more generic term of guns; firearms include: shotguns, handguns, rifles, imitation firearms, unidentified firearms and other firearms

  • mugging is an informal term for robbery, in this bulletin we use the term “robbery”

  • cybercrimes (or online crimes) are offences that can be committed via a computer, computer network or other form of information and communications technology (ICT); cybercrimes include computer misuse crimes, they also include some frauds that only occur online (for example, online shopping scams) and some non-fraud crimes (for example, online harassment)

  • domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence and refers to crimes committed by either a partner, ex-partner or family member

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. 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.

The current bulletin and other crime statistics

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 our 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 latest outputs published on our webpage include:

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.

Notes for: Things you need to know about this release

  1. The coverage of police recorded crime figures is defined by the Notifiable Offence List.
  2. The full assessment report can be found on the UK Statistics Authority (PDF, 220.9KB) website. Data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) continue to be badged as National Statistics.
  3. The Crime-recording: making the victim count report, published by HMICFRS in late 2014, found that violent offences had been substantially under-recorded (by 33% nationally) and led to police forces reviewing and improving their recording processes.
  4. These reports were published between 2016 and 2019, and the most recent reports were published on 15 January 2019. Seven re-inspection reports have also been published.
  5. Of the 30 published inspection reports, and seven re-inspection reports, two forces received a rating of “outstanding”, nine forces received a rating of “good”, with a further 12 rated as “requires improvement” and another seven as “inadequate”.
  6. See Section 3.6 of the User guide for more information.
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5. Overview of crime

This section provides an overview of findings across our two main data sources. A selection of these findings are discussed in more depth in subsequent sections.

The latest estimates from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) for the year ending September 2018 show that most types of crime have stayed at similar levels to the previous year. Estimates for total crime, including fraud and computer misuse, showed no change (10.7 million offences, Figure 1).

New victimisation questions on fraud and computer misuse were introduced into the CSEW in October 2015. These offences are excluded when looking at changes in crime over the longer-term to make figures comparable. The latest estimate indicates that CSEW crime (excluding fraud and computer misuse) showed no change in the year ending September 2018 (6.2 million offences).

Which crime types have changed, according to the CSEW?

When looking at the main types of crime, the largest change in the volume of incidents across all crime types was seen in computer misuse offences. This offence type decreased by 501,000 offences (33%, to 1 million offences), driven largely by a 45% decrease in computer viruses.

All other main types of crime measured by the survey showed no statistically significant change in the number of offences. However, statistically significant changes were seen in some of the fraud and computer misuse subcategories (see Appendix Table A1 for details).

Most people are not victims of crime

The latest survey estimates showed that 2 in 10 adults experienced any of the crimes asked about in the survey in the previous 12 months. The latest data show that it is much more likely for an adult in England and Wales to experience fraud, than a violent offence.

The likelihood of being a victim of crime has fallen considerably over the long-term. Around 40 in 100 adults were estimated to have been a victim of crime in 1995. This was before the survey included fraud and computer misuse in its coverage. Based on crimes comparable with those measured in the 1995 survey, 15 in 100 adults were victims of crime in the year ending September 2018.

Police recorded crime data show a genuine increase in some higher-harm violent offences

Over the last year, police figures indicate rises in some higher-harm violent offences involving the use of weapons1. Recorded offences involving knives or sharp instruments went up by 8% to 39,8182 . However, there was a decrease seen in offences involving firearms, which fell by 4% (to 6,424 offences). These differences are thought to reflect genuine changes (Figure 3).

The headline number of offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the latest year (42,957 offences) includes all 44 police forces in England and Wales (including British Transport Police). However, data from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have been excluded from the time series.

A review of GMP data has identified undercounting of crimes involving a knife or sharp instrument. This occurred due to a technical issue with the identification and extraction of all relevant records of these offences from their crime recording system. GMP have changed the methodology they use to extract knife or sharp instrument offences and data from December 2017 onwards have been revised. However, data for earlier periods have not been revised and are likely to exclude relevant crimes that were recorded in GMP. Due to these changes, data for GMP have been excluded from the time series. Figures including and excluding GMP can be found in Tables F3a and F3b.

Excluding data from GMP, offences involving a knife or a sharp instrument are at the highest level recorded (39,818 offences) since comparable data began to be collected in the year ending March 2011. However, they are still relatively low-volume and tend to be concentrated in London and other metropolitan areas. The majority of police force areas saw a rise in this type of violent crime (Tables P4 and P5). More information on how offences involving a knife or sharp instrument vary by police force area can be found in Some weapons offences are rising, but this type of crime remains low-volume.

The rise in this type of crime is supported by admissions data for NHS hospitals in England3, which have shown an increase in admissions for assault by a sharp object in the year to March 2018.

Further discussion about offences involving knives or sharp instruments can be found in Some weapons offences are rising, but this type of crime remains low-volume.

Homicides have increased, but this remains a low-volume crime

The total number of homicides recorded by the police rose by 8% (to 739 offences). However, recent trends are affected by the recording of exceptional incidents with multiple victims such as the terrorist attacks in London4 and Manchester in 2017.

If these cases are excluded, we can provide an underlying trend in recorded homicides over time. In this case, the latest figures show 90 more homicides than the previous year, a 14% rise from 649 to 739 offences. This continues an upward trend in homicides since March 2014, indicating a change to the long-term decrease over the previous decade (Figure 4).

Vehicle offences and robbery also thought to show genuine increases

Police recorded figures showed an increase in vehicle offences (up 3% to 457,433 offences) for the year ending September 2018. Vehicle offences recorded by the police have been increasing since the year ending March 2015. However, the size of the annual increase is smaller than that reported in recent quarters. For example, in the year ending March 2018, the police recorded a 12% increase in the number of vehicle offences.

The increase in vehicle offences in the latest year is due largely to a 10% increase (a volume increase of 9,717 offences) in the subcategory “theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle” to 110,302 offences. The subcategory “theft from a vehicle” showed no change compared with the previous year (see Appendix Table A4).

While the difference seen in vehicle-related theft offences estimated by the CSEW is not statistically significant, we believe the recent increases in police recorded vehicle offences reflect genuine rises. These offences are thought to be generally well-reported by victims and well-recorded by the police and as such the data can help identify short-term changes.

The police also recorded a rise in robbery (up 17% to 80,947 offences; Figure 5). The number of recorded robberies is disproportionately high in London, accounting for 41% of all recorded robberies. In comparison, London accounts for 16% of all recorded crimes in England and Wales5.

Whilst it is likely robbery is still impacted by some recording effects, this is thought to be less pronounced than for other crime types (see What’s happened to the volume of crime recorded by the police?). The rise seen in robbery is likely to reflect a real increase in these crimes.

The CSEW does not provide a robust measure of short-term trends in robbery as it is a relatively low-volume crime. This is highlighted by the fact that the estimated 29% increase in robbery offences estimated by the CSEW in the latest year was not statistically significant.

More detailed analysis by crime type is provided in Sections 6 to 12 of this bulletin and further breakdown is provided in the Appendix tables published alongside this bulletin.

CSEW and police recorded crime figures for main crime types

Rises in some offence types for police recorded crime need to be interpreted with caution

For some crimes, an increase in the number of offences recorded by the police is unlikely to indicate a real rise in these types of crime. For the latest figures this relates to:

  • violent crime, particularly violence without injury offences

  • sexual offences

  • stalking and harassment

  • public order offences

It is thought that increases in these crime types largely reflect changes in reporting and recording practices. These are discussed separately in more detail in What’s happened to the volume of crime recorded by the police?

You can also read more about our data sources in Things you need to know about this release.

Notes for: Overview of crime

  1. In this bulletin we discuss weapons offences as a whole, alongside violent offences. However, we note that sexual offences and robbery are defined as separate categories to that of violence.
  2. Excludes Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
  3. Data are from NHS Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity, 2017-18 and NHS Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity, 2016-17. See the “External Causes” datasets. The latest data were published on 20 September 2018.
  4. Includes victims of the London Bridge and Borough Market, and Westminster attacks. Events at Finsbury Park are not included as there were not multiple victims of homicide.
  5. Excluding fraud offences.
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6. No change in the most common types of violent crime

This section examines the most recent findings about violent crime and includes:

  • the more frequently-occurring types of violent crime measured by the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), such as assault

  • the relatively low-volume types of violent crime recorded by the police, including homicide, and death or serious injury caused by unlawful driving

Crimes involving knives or sharp instruments are discussed in Some weapons offences are rising, but this type of crime remains low-volume.

Violent crime is a broad term that covers a wide variety of offences, including: minor assaults such as pushing and shoving, harassment and psychological abuse (that result in no physical harm) and attempted offences, through to wounding, physical assault, and murder.

The CSEW data include incidents with and without injury. Violent offences in police recorded data are referred to as “violence against the person”1 and include: homicide, death or serious injury caused by unlawful driving, violence with injury, violence without injury, and stalking and harassment.

CSEW is the best measure of trends in the most common types of violence

For the offences and population that it covers, the CSEW provides the best measure of trends for overall violent crime. It has used a consistent methodology across the time series back to 1981. The survey covers crimes that are not reported to or recorded by the police and so tends to provide the better measure of more common but less harmful crimes. Unlike police recorded crime statistics, the CSEW is also not affected by changes in recording practices and police activity.

Factors influencing changes in police recorded crime are described in more detail in What’s happened to the volume of crime recorded by the police?

CSEW shows no change in the level of violence in recent years

There were an estimated 1.4 million incidents of violence experienced by adults aged 16 years and over in the latest CSEW survey for the year ending September 2018. This figure has not changed significantly compared with last year. This continues a period of no change seen over the last four years, following long-term decreases since the peak in 1995 (Figure 6).

Long-term reductions in violent crime supported by other data

The longer-term reductions in violent crime, as shown by the CSEW, are reflected in the findings of the most recent admissions data for NHS hospitals in England. There was a 7% increase in assault admissions (a volume increase of 1,729 to 28,179) for the year ending March 20182 compared with the previous year. However, assault admissions for the year ending March 2018 were still 33% lower than the year ending March 2008 (42,181 admissions). In addition, research conducted by the Violence Research Group at Cardiff University (PDF, 502KB) showed similar findings. Results from their annual survey, covering a sample of hospital emergency departments and walk-in centres in England and Wales, showed that violence-related attendances in 2017 fell 39% since 2010.

Estimates of violence against 10- to 15-year-olds, 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.

Homicides have increased, but this remains a low-volume crime

While the CSEW provides a good picture of the overall trend in violent crime, police recorded crime is a better measure of higher-harm but less common types of violence. As a victimisation survey, the CSEW is not able to collect information on homicide3, so for this crime type police recorded crime is the only available source of data.

The police recorded 739 homicides in the latest year to September 2018, an 8% rise compared with the previous year (Table A4). However, recent trends in homicide have been affected by the recording of incidents with multiple victims. Of the 684 homicides recorded in the year ending September 2017, there were 354 that related to the London and Manchester terror attacks. Excluding these exceptional events, there was a volume rise of 90 homicides (a 14% rise, up to a total of 739; Figure 7).

An upward trend seen over the last four years contrasts with the previous downward trend since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in 2002. Despite this, the rate of homicide in the population remains very low, at 13 homicides per 1 million people.  

The number of homicides where a knife or sharp instrument was involved has increased by 10% in the last year (to 276 offences5). Of all recorded homicides in the latest data, about 4 in 10 involved a knife or sharp instrument (37%). This proportion has not changed from the previous year. For more information on selected violent and sexual crimes involving a knife or sharp instrument, see Table 4 in Some weapons offences are rising, but this type of crime remains low-volume.

Small decrease in death or serious injury caused by unlawful driving

Offences recorded by the police related to death or serious injury caused by unlawful driving decreased by 5% in the latest year to September 2018, compared with the previous year (to 710 offences). The fall in offences is in contrast with recent years where there has been a rising trend. The decrease is driven by a fall of 32% (volume decrease of 50 offences to 107) in the subcategory “Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving”. As with homicide offences, this category is thought to be well-recorded by the police.

There is more detailed information on long-term trends and the circumstances of violence in The nature of violent crime in England and Wales: year ending March 2017 and Homicide in England and Wales: year ending March 2017. We have produced other publications that discuss violent crime, which can be found via our main crime and justice webpage.

Notes for: No change in the most common types of violent crime

  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. Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity, 2017-18 and Hospital Episode Statistics, Admitted Patient Care – England, 2007-08 provided by NHS Digital. See the “External Causes” datasets. Assault admissions do not include sexual offences but include assault codes X85 to Y04 and Y08 and Y09 from the dataset. The latest data were published on 20 September 2018.
  3. Homicide includes the offences of murder, manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and infanticide.
  4. Includes victims of the London Bridge and Borough Market, and Westminster attacks. Events at Finsbury Park are not included as there were not multiple victims of homicide.
  5. Includes Greater Manchester Police. The recording of homicides involving a knife or sharp instrument was unaffected by their recording review in December 2017.
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7. Some weapons offences are rising, but this type of crime remains low-volume

In this section we focus on crimes involving weapons. Police recorded data are available for both offences involving knives or sharp instruments and offences involving firearms.

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. In this case, police recorded crime is a useful source for measuring these offences, although not all offences will come to the attention of the police.

Highest number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments since 20111

Police recorded knife or sharp instrument offences data are submitted via an additional special collection2. Proportions of offences involving the use of a knife or sharp instrument3 presented in this section are calculated based on figures submitted in this special collection. Although not all offences are included, those selected are thought to cover most offences involving a knife or sharp instrument.

The police recorded 42,957 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the year ending September 2018. However, recent trends in offences involving a knife or sharp instrument have been affected by findings from a review of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) data. This review identified undercounting of crimes involving a knife or sharp instrument. This occurred due to a technical issue with the identification and extraction of all relevant records of these offences from their crime recording system. GMP have changed the methodology they use to extract knife or sharp instrument offences and data from December 2017 onwards have been revised. Previous data have not been revised and are likely to exclude relevant crimes, therefore data including GMP are not comparable over time.

Excluding GMP, there was a volume rise of 3,042 offences (an 8% rise, up to a total of 39,818 offences; Figure 8). This is the highest number since the year ending March 2011, the earliest point for which comparable data are available4.

The past four years have seen a rise in the number of recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument, following an initial downward trend (Figure 8).

Including GMP, in the latest year the offences “assault with injury” and “assault with intent to cause serious harm” accounted for almost half (46%) of total selected offences involving a knife or sharp instrument. Robberies accounted for a further 43% (Table 4). Rape, attempted murder, sexual assault and homicide accounted for a very small proportion of offences involving a knife or sharp instrument (3%, or 1,289 out of 42,957 recorded offences from October 2017 to September 2018; Figure 9).

The majority of police forces (29 of the 43)5 recorded a rise in offences involving knives or sharp instruments in the year ending September 2018. The Metropolitan Police had the largest volume increase in offences involving knives or sharp instruments, accounting for 25% of the total increase in these offences across England and Wales6. A breakdown of offences for each Police Force Area and the time series for these data are published in Tables P4 and P5.

Higher rates of knife crime seen in urban areas

Knife crime offences are disproportionally concentrated in London. In the year ending September 2018, 35% of all crime involving a knife or sharp instrument happened in London. The Metropolitan Police saw 168 offences per 100,000 people in the latest year.

Urban areas in general see higher rates of knife crime. The highest rates after London were seen in West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands (118, 112 and 107 offences per 100,000 population respectively). These areas saw higher rates than the England and Wales average of 73 offences per 100,000 population (Figure 10).

Figure 10: Rates of crimes involving knives or sharp instruments vary by Police Force Area

England and Wales, year ending September 2018

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Source: Home Office - Police recorded crime

Notes:

  1. A review of Greater Manchester Police data has identified undercounting of crimes involving a knife or sharp instrument. This occurred due to a technical issue with the identification and extraction of all relevant records of these offences from their crime recording system.
  2. One police force (Surrey) include unbroken bottle and glass offences in their returns, which are outside the scope of this special collection.
  3. As such, data for these forces are not directly comparable to data for other forces.

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NHS data provide further evidence of a real rise in offences involving knives or sharp instruments

We believe recent increases in recorded knife or sharp instrument offences reflect a real rise in the occurrence of these types of crime. However, improvements in recording practices are also a factor.

NHS data help to provide further insight into offences involving weapons. For example, admissions data for NHS hospitals in England reported 4,986 admissions for assault by a sharp object between April 2017 and March 20187, an increase of 15% in the last year.

The number of offences resulting in admission to hospital is substantially lower than the number of recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument. This difference may be explained by differences in the collection of these data. The weapon does not have to have been used in the offence, only present, for it to be flagged in the police recorded special collection.

Possession of an article with a blade or point also rose

Police recorded “possession of an article with a blade or point” offences rose, by 18%, to 19,644 offences in the year ending September 2018. This rise is consistent with increases seen over the last five years and 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.

Decrease in offences involving firearms following recent increases

Recorded offences involving firearms8,9, decreased by 4% (to 6,424) in the year ending September 2018 compared with the previous year (6,706 offences). The fall in offences is in contrast with recent years where there has been a rising trend (Figure 11).

This overall decrease was driven by a fall in the number of offences involving less serious weapons such as imitation firearms10 (down 20% to 1,342). However, there have also been small falls in more serious weapon categories such as shotguns (down 5% to 631).

There were increases for some weapon categories but these were of small volume and were cancelled out by the larger volume decreases seen in offences involving shotguns, imitation firearms and handguns (Table F2).

Further analysis on offences involving knives or sharp instruments and offences involving firearms, including figures based on a broader definition of the types of firearm involved11, can be found in Offences involving the use of weapons: data tables. However, this refers to the year ending March 2017.

Notes for: Some weapons offences are rising, but this type of crime remains low-volume

  1. A sharp instrument is any object that pierces the skin (or in the case of a threat, is capable of piercing the skin), for example, a broken bottle.
  2. This special collection 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.
  3. The weapon does not have to have been used in the offence, only present, for it to be flagged in the police recorded special collection.
  4. Data on offences involving a knife or sharp instrument began to be collected in April 2009; however, comparable data are only available from the year ending March 2011. The Offences involving the use of weapons: data tables include data on offences involving a knife or sharp instrument going back to the year ending March 2009.
  5. Excludes Greater Manchester Police. A review of Greater Manchester Police data has identified undercounting of crimes involving a knife or sharp instrument. This occurred due to a technical issue with the identification and extraction of all relevant records of these offences from their crime recording system. GMP have changed the methodology they use to extract knife or sharp instrument offences and data from December 2017 onwards have been revised. However, data for earlier periods have not been revised and are likely to exclude relevant crimes that were recorded in GMP. Due to these changes, data for GMP are not comparable over this time period.
  6. Excludes Greater Manchester Police.
  7. Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity, 2017-18 and Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity, 2016-17 provided by NHS Digital. See the “External Causes” datasets. “Assault by a sharp object” is code X99. The latest data were published on 20 September 2018.
  8. 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.
  9. Offences involving a firearm include: if a firearm is fired, used as a blunt instrument, or used as a threat.
  10. Imitation firearms include replica weapons, as well as low-powered weapons, which fire small plastic pellets, such as BB guns and soft air weapons. While injuries can occur from offences involving these weapons, they are less common and tend to be less serious.
  11. The broader definition of firearms includes conventional air weapons, such as air rifles.
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8. A mixed picture for police recorded property crimes

In this section we focus on vehicle-related thefts, robbery1, burglary and shoplifting.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) has shown long-term reductions in most categories of theft. The overall number of theft offences has fallen by 69% since the year ending December 1995.

In the latest year, the CSEW showed no change in the overall number of theft offences compared with the previous year (the 5% increase to 3,574,000 offences was non-significant; Figure 12, Table A1).

Continued rise in vehicle offences

Police recorded vehicle offences increased by 3% (to 457,433) in the year ending September 2018, continuing the rising trend seen over the last two years. However, the increase was smaller than other annual increases seen in recent quarters (a 7% increase in the year ending June 2018 and a 12% increase in the year ending March 2018).

There was an increase seen in the subcategory of “theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle” (up by 10% to 110,302 recorded offences) but no change from the previous year in “theft from a vehicle” (277,017 recorded offences). Recent rises are also evident in the number of motor insurance claims relating to theft2.

While the apparent increase in CSEW vehicle-related theft in the latest year was not statistically significant, we believe that recent rises recorded by the police reflect a genuine increase. This is because vehicle offences tend to be relatively well reported by the public and recorded by the police and as such the data can help identify short-term changes.

However, the volume rises shown by police recorded crime for vehicle offences are relatively small in the context of a longer-term reduction. CSEW vehicle-related theft has fallen by 79% since the year ending December 1995 and 37% since the year ending March 2008.

Police recorded crime data indicate a genuine increase in robbery

Rises in police recorded robbery offences were evident in the latest year (up 17% to 80,947 offences; Figure 13). The increase in robbery offences is likely to reflect a real change in these crimes because they tend to be relatively well reported by the public. Recording improvements are also likely to have contributed to this rise, but the impact is thought to be less pronounced than for some other crime types.

The CSEW does not provide a robust measure of short-term trends in robbery as it is a relatively low-volume crime. This is highlighted by the fact that the estimated 29% increase in robbery offences by the CSEW in the latest year was not statistically significant.

Fall in burglary

Recent rises in police recorded burglary offences (6% in the year ending March 2018 and 3% in the year ending March 2017) have not continued in the latest year. Figures for the year ending September 2018 show that the number of burglary offences recorded by the police decreased by 1% (to 427,435 offences; Figure 13).

We believe this crime type is less affected by the impact of recording improvements than other types of crime, but it is too early to know if this decrease reflects a change in the trend for burglary. CSEW domestic burglary in the latest year showed no change compared with the previous survey year.

Fall in shoplifting

In the year ending September 2018, shoplifting offences recorded by the police decreased by 1% (a volume decrease of 4,651) to 378,656 offences. This is the first decrease seen in shoplifting since the year ending March 2013.

Notes for: A mixed picture for police recorded property crimes

  1. Robbery, which is theft (or attempted theft) involving the use or threat of force, is included in this section as it involves theft, but it is not included in the “all theft” category.
  2. Based on unpublished information from the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
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9. Computer misuse offences show a decrease in computer viruses

This section covers our findings about computer misuse crime, which includes offences such as computer viruses and hacking1.

Data on computer misuse crime are available from new questions introduced in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) from October 2015 and from offences referred to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) by Action Fraud (the public-facing national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre)2.

Following the introduction of these new crime survey questions, we can look at changes in these estimates over the last three years. However, due to the implementation of a new methodology alongside this release (see Things you need to know about this release for more information), historic quarterly data have not been revised. Therefore, we are unable to provide the full three-year time series for computer misuse and can only make comparisons based on the latest two years. As this comparison is based on two data points only, caution must be taken in drawing conclusions about trends at this early stage.

CSEW provides the best indication of the volume of computer misuse offences

It is important to consider that Action Fraud data on computer misuse represent only a small fraction of all computer misuse crime, as many incidents are not reported. The CSEW is able to capture some of these unreported offences. This can be seen by the large difference in volume of computer misuse offences between the two sources – 1.0 million offences estimated by the CSEW compared with around 24,063 offences referred to the NFIB by Action Fraud.

In addition, the two sources have different coverage. While questions on computer misuse in the CSEW provide fuller coverage of computer misuse crimes against the household population, they do not generally include offences committed against businesses and other organisations. As such, it is not possible to make meaningful comparisons between computer misuse crime reported to Action Fraud and that measured by the survey.

Fall in computer viruses drives fall in CSEW computer misuse

In the year ending September 2018, the CSEW estimated that offences involving computer misuse showed a 33% decrease from the previous year (down to 1 million offences; Table 5). This decrease was largely owing to a fall in “computer viruses” (down 45% to 534,000 offences).

Incidents involving “unauthorised access to personal information (including hacking)” (470,000 offences) did not show a significant change from the previous year.

Increase in incidents of computer misuse reported to Action Fraud

All “computer misuse crime”3 referred to the NFIB by Action Fraud increased by 12% in the latest year (up to 24,063 offences). This rise was less pronounced than that seen in the year ending September 2017, due in part to a notable decrease of 25% for the latest year in computer viruses (down to 6,241 offences).

This fall in computer viruses is consistent with the latest CSEW fall in this type of crime. It follows a previous substantial rise where a high number of such offences were reported to Action Fraud in the first part of 2017.

The overall rise in computer misuse recorded by Action Fraud was driven by an increase in “hacking – social media and email” over the last year (up 35% to 9,458 offences). This is thought to reflect an increasing awareness of falling victim to hacking among the public, leading to a greater likelihood of incidents being reported.

Notes for: Computer misuse offences show a decrease in computer viruses

  1. A full definition of terms is provided in the User guide.
  2. For further information on these sources and their strengths and weaknesses, please see Section 5.4 of the User guide and also the Overview of fraud and computer misuse statistics article.
  3. Computer misuse crime covers any unauthorised access to computer material, as set out in the Computer Misuse Act 1990.
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10. Little change in the volume of fraud offences in the last year

This section focuses on our most recent findings about fraud, which includes a range of fraudulent activities including bank and credit account fraud, consumer and retail fraud, and advance fee fraud1.

The recorded crime series incorporates fraud offences collated by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) from three reporting bodies: Action Fraud (the public-facing national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre) and two industry bodies, Cifas and UK Finance2 (who report instances of fraud where their member organisations have been a victim3).

In addition, new questions on fraud were introduced in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) from October 2015. However, due to the implementation of a new methodology alongside this release (see Things you need to know about this release for more information), historic quarterly data have not been revised. Therefore, we are unable to provide the full three-year time series for fraud and can only make comparisons based on the latest two years. As this comparison is based on two data points only, caution must be taken in drawing conclusions about trends at this early stage.

CSEW provides the best indication of the volume of fraud offences

The CSEW provides the best measure of fraud offences directly experienced by individuals in England and Wales. CSEW estimates cover a broad range of fraud offences, including attempts, offences involving a loss and incidents not reported to the authorities.

Contrasts in findings between the CSEW and the data referred to the NFIB may be explained, in part, by differences in the coverage of the two sources. The number of incidents estimated by the CSEW is substantially higher than the number of incidents referred to the NFIB. This is because the survey captures a large volume of lower-harm cases that are less likely to have been reported to the authorities. For example, the CSEW estimated 3.5 million incidents of fraud for the year ending September 2018 compared with 0.6 million incidents referred to the NFIB4 (see Appendix Tables A1 and A5).

Incidents of fraud referred to the NFIB by Action Fraud, Cifas and UK Finance will include reports from businesses and other organisations. They will also tend to mostly be focused on cases at the more serious end of the spectrum. This is because, by definition, they will only include crimes that the victim considers serious enough to report to the authorities or where there are viable lines of investigation.

As a result, fraud offences referred to the authorities make up a relatively small proportion of the overall volume of fraud. This is supported by findings from the CSEW, which suggests that around 1 in 8 incidents of fraud (13%) are reported by the victim to either the police or to Action Fraud (Table E5, year ending March 2018).

No change in fraud measured by CSEW

Findings for the year ending September 2018 estimated that the number of fraud incidents (3.5 million) had not significantly changed from the previous survey year. Latest results also showed no significant change in offences under the separate subcategories of “bank and credit account fraud” and “advance fee fraud” (Table 6). However, there was an increase seen in “consumer and retail fraud” (up 34% to 1,002,000 offences) and “other fraud” (up 109% to 97,000 offences).

Over half of fraud incidents for the latest survey year were thought to be cyber-related5 (56% or 1.9 million incidents; Table E2).

Further findings from the CSEW fraud questions for the year ending September 2018 are presented in the Additional tables on Fraud and Cybercrime.

Recorded crime shows a small decrease in total fraud offences

The recorded crime series indicated a small decrease of 2% in the total number of fraud offences referred to the NFIB in the year ending September 2018 (650,051 offences) compared with the previous year (661,878 offences). Some differences were apparent when looking at the separate reporting bodies – Action Fraud reported a rise in fraud offences (up 9% to 295,549), Cifas reported a fall (down 7% to 279,613 offences) and UK Finance reported a fall (down 15% to 74,889 offences). However, these need to be interpreted in terms of differences around coverage and the main types of fraud captured by each reporting body (see Appendix Table A5)6.

Additional administrative data give a fuller picture of card and bank account fraud

The latest number of fraud offences referred to the NFIB by UK Finance showed a fall from the previous year. However, additional data collected by UK Finance via their CAMIS system7 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 2.1 million cases of frauds (excluding Authorised Push Payments) involving UK-issued payment cards, remote banking and cheques via CAMIS. This is an increase of 13% from the previous year (Table F4), accounted for solely by a rise in plastic card fraud (Figure 14).  

These data are able to capture card fraud not reported to the police for investigation8. They therefore offer a better picture of the scale of bank account and plastic card fraud identified by financial institutions in the UK. The data also help to supplement the CSEW, possibly giving a better indication of short-term trends and helping to bridge the gap between the broad coverage provided by the survey and the narrower focus of offences referred to the NFIB.

Most of the additional offences covered in the CAMIS data fall into the category of “remote purchase fraud”9 and fraudulent incidents involving lost or stolen cards. These account for a high proportion of plastic card fraud that is not included in the NFIB figures.

Most of the latest increase in plastic card fraud reported via CAMIS was covered by offences falling into the category of “remote purchase fraud”, which rose by 15% (a volume increase of 206,364 offences) from the previous year (to 1,615,623 offences). The introduction of chip card technology has forced fraudsters to change their methods of working. CAMIS figures indicate that remote purchase fraud has consistently accounted for around three-quarters of all plastic card fraud reported to UK Finance.

Increases were also covered by offences in the category of “lost or stolen cards” increasing by 23% (a volume increase of 71,292 offences) compared with the previous year. This increase in lost and stolen card fraud reported to UK Finance is thought to be related to a rise in distraction thefts and courier scams10.Distraction thefts are where fraudsters steal cards in shops and at cash machines, and courier scams are where victims are tricked into handing over their cards on the doorstep.

New figures on Authorised Push Payment fraud are now included in CAMIS data

Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud refers to cases where victims are tricked into sending money directly from their account to an account that the fraudster controls. APP was included for the first time in the CAMIS data for the year ending December 2017. As this is a new data collection, it is not yet possible to make comparisons over time. The new data show that in the year ending September 2018, there were 70,454 cases of APP fraud reported to UK Finance.

APP fraud can often involve significant sums of money and have adverse financial and emotional consequences for the victim. Unlike most other frauds, victims of APP fraud authorise the payment themselves and this means that they have no legal protection to cover them for losses. UK Finance reported that £145.4 million was lost through such scams in the first six months of 201811. The majority of victims (92%) lost savings on personal accounts, losing an average of approximately £2,950 and the remainder were businesses, who lost on average approximately £20,000 per case. These new data were produced in response to investigations by the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) into a super-complaint received from the consumer group Which? in 2016. Following the super-complaint, the PSR, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the payments industry (represented by UK Finance) have developed an ongoing programme of work to reduce the harm to consumers from APP scams12.

Notes for: Little change in the volume of fraud offences in the last year

  1. A full definition of terms is provided in the User guide.
  2. For further information on these sources and their strengths and weaknesses, please see Section 5.4 of the User guide and also the Overview of fraud and computer misuse statistics article.
  3. A full breakdown of the types of fraud offences referred to the NFIB by Action Fraud, Cifas and UK Finance in the latest year is presented in Table A5 and a definition of terms is provided in the User guide.
  4. This figure excludes computer misuse offences.
  5. Based on whether the internet or any type of online activity was related to any aspect of the offence.
  6. For further information on these sources and their strengths and weaknesses, please see Section 5.4 of the User guide and also the Overview of fraud and computer misuse statistics article.
  7. For more information on UK Finance and CAMIS, please see Section 5.4 of the User guide and also the Overview of fraud and computer misuse statistics article.
  8. The CAMIS system contains cases where it has been judged that there is no evidential value and no hope of identifying the offender. CAMIS data include those cases referred by UK Finance to the NFIB.
  9. Remote purchase fraud refers to frauds where, in the vast majority of cases, card details have been fraudulently obtained through unsolicited emails or telephone calls or digital attacks, such as malware and data hacks, and then used to undertake fraudulent purchases over the internet, phone or by mail order.
  10. Further information on trends in payment industry fraud based on industry data collated by UK Finance is available in Fraud the facts 2018.
  11. Data reported by UK Finance article Criminals steal £500 million through fraud and scams in the first half of 2018.
  12. For more information see the report and consultation published on 7 November 2017, explaining the work the PSR, the FCA and the payments industry have undertaken in the preceding year.
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11. What’s happened to the volume of crime recorded by the police?

For many types of offence, police recorded crime figures do not provide a reliable measure of trends in all crime, but they do provide a good measure of the crime-related demand on the police.

In this section we discuss police recorded crime data in more detail, including:

  • how police recorded crime data have changed over time

  • improvements in recording practices and the impact on the number of recorded crimes

  • particular crimes where an increase in the number of recorded offences is due largely to recording improvements or more victims reporting, rather than a genuine rise in crime (some types of violence, public order offences, domestic abuse and sexual offences)

Police recorded crime data have changed over time

The volume of crimes recorded by the police increased between the 1980s and the early 1990s, with changes to recording rules and processes resulting in additional rises between 1998 and 2004. This was followed by a decline in the number of crimes recorded by the police during the 2000s and early 2010s. Since 2014, the total number of crimes recorded by the police have increased. Whilst year-on-year increases have grown in recent years, the latest increase (7%; Figure 15) is smaller than the previous year (14%).

Rises seen over recent years reflect a combination of factors, which vary for different crime types, and include:

  • continuing improvements to recording processes and practices

  • more victims reporting crime

  • genuine increases in crime

These factors are believed to have the largest impact on violent and sexual offences, as evidenced by Crime-recording: making the victim count, published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in November 2014. This report showed that violence against the person and sexual offences had the highest under-recording rates nationally (33% and 26%, respectively).

In the rest of this section we discuss police recorded crime in terms of: violent crime, public order offences, domestic abuse, and sexual offences.

Recording improvements have had a big impact on police recorded violence

Interpreting trends in police recorded violence is difficult. Ongoing work by police forces over the last three years to improve crime-recording practices has driven an increase in recorded violence against the person offences. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the improvements have had a larger effect on relatively less harmful types of violent crime and less impact on more harmful subcategories, such as homicide and violent offences involving weapons.

In 2014, HMICFRS found that violent offences were more prone than other offences to subjective judgement about whether to record a crime. Since then, these offences have been one of the three main categories of crime focused on in the subsequent rolling programme of HMICFRS inspections.

Evidence of improvements in recording since 2014 can be found in the more recent Crime Data Integrity (CDI) inspections carried out by HMICFRS1 in the last two years. Findings from the 30 inspections suggest that crime recording practices by police forces in England and Wales are, in general, improving. Five of the forces who received a rating of “inadequate” at initial assessment have since been re-inspected and their ratings improved (two forces to “outstanding”, two forces to “good” and one force to “requires improvement”). However, the level and speed of improvement varies across the country and some forces have further work to do to ensure reports of crime, in particular violent crime, are recorded correctly.

It is therefore likely that the increases in police recorded violence 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. Further CDI inspection reports will be published periodically as the programme continues.

HMICFRS have recently published their annual report, State of Policing: The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2017. This summarises the progress of police forces to improve their recording practices, based on the ongoing CDI programme.

Larger increase in violence without injury than violence with injury

The “violence without injury” subcategory accounted for 41% of all violence recorded by the police and showed a larger increase in the latest year to September 2018 (up 19% to 638,894 offences), than the “violence with injury” subcategory (up 8% to 533,248 offences; Figure 16).

Almost 9 in 10 “violence without injury” offences2 recorded by the police in the year ending September 2018 were classified as assaults without injury3 (87%; 553,160 offences). This category showed a 19% increase (of 89,305 offences) compared with the previous year, which contributed to 86% of the increase in “violence without injury” offences. Smaller increases were seen in:

  • threats to kill (up 7,418 offences; 7% of the increase)

  • cruelty to children or young persons (up 2,419 offences; 2% of the increase)

  • assault without injury on a constable (up 1,799 offences; 2% of the increase)

Most of the 8% increase in the “violence with injury” subcategory was a result of an increase in assault with injury (70% of the increase). Assaults with injury on a constable accounted for 16% of the increase (up 6,320 offences) and assault with intent to cause serious harm accounted for a further 12% of the increase (up 4,831 offences).

There was a decrease evident in attempted murder offences in the latest year (down 16% to 1,040 offences). This is due to the large number of attempted murder offences recorded in the comparator year due to the Manchester (235 offences) and London terror attacks (59 offences). In the year ending September 2018, there were 43 offences recorded in relation to the terrorist-related incident at Parsons Green Underground station. Excluding terrorist incidents from both years, the number of attempted murder offences recorded by the police increased by 6% in the latest year.

Stalking and harassment accounted for over one-third of the increase in violence

The stalking and harassment4 subcategory rose by 41% compared with the previous year (Figure 16). This accounted for 43% of the change in violence recorded by the police (a volume increase of 108,709 offences). It is likely that recording improvements are an important factor in this rise, particularly in relation to malicious communication offences due to improved compliance in recording of these new offences over time.

From April 2018, a change to the Home Office Counting Rules meant that the offence of stalking or harassment will be recorded in addition to the most serious additional offence involving the same victim and offender. This change has been a large driver in the increase in stalking and harassment offences recorded by police in the last year. It is likely that the number of such offences recorded will continue to increase until the rule changes have bedded-in across all forces.

The latest joint inspection5 conducted by HMICFRS and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) 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.

Rise in violence in all police force areas

All police forces recorded a rise in violence in the latest year to September 2018 compared with the previous year. Changes in violence varied by police force area, ranging from an increase of 1.0% to 63.2% in the last year (Table P1).

It is important to bear in mind that these increases will reflect recording improvements and the extent of such effects differs across police forces (Tables P1 and P2).

Public order offences show increases

Public order offences cover a range of incidents including “causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress”. These offences are not covered by the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and can be influenced by changes in police activity and recording practices. Public order offences increased by 24% in the latest year following a 44% increase in the previous year. The rise in public order offences is due largely to an increase of 28% in recorded offences of “Public fear, alarm, and distress” (to 321,041 offences). This accounts for approximately three in four (75%) of all recorded public order offences in the latest year.

A large part of this increase is likely to reflect improvements and changes to recording practices. In particular, we think that some incidents that would have been recorded as anti-social behaviour in past years, are now being recorded as public order offences. This accords with the consistent drop in the number of recorded anti-social behaviour offences since figures began in 2008. However, it is possible that genuine increases in public disorder may have contributed to this rise.

Police recorded domestic abuse continues to rise

A 2015 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. This was in addition to forces actively encouraging victims to come forward to report these crimes.

Since April 2015, crimes should be “flagged” as being domestic abuse-related by the police if the offence meets the government definition of domestic violence and abuse6.

As the flagging of offences may rely on a manual intervention in the crime recording system, the quality of these data may be inconsistent across police forces and open to more variation than the underlying number of recorded offences.

In the year ending September 2018, there was an increase in the total number of domestic abuse-related offences recorded by the police (up 25% to 676,063). As well as general improvements in recording, 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. 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.

In comparison, figures from a self-completion module in the CSEW have shown little change in the prevalence of domestic abuse in recent years. However, the cumulative effect of these changes has resulted in a small, significantly lower prevalence for the year ending March 2018 (6.1%), compared with the year ending March 2005 (8.9%). This indicates a gradual, longer-term downward trend (Table S36).

Further analysis on domestic abuse can be found in the Domestic abuse in England and Wales: year ending March 2018 release and Domestic abuse: findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales: year ending March 2018.

New data will help us measure coercive behaviour and sexual offences against children

Included in the rise in domestic abuse-related crimes are offences of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship7. This became a new criminal offence as part of the Serious Crime Act 2015 and came into force on 29 December 2015. Of the 43 forces for which data were available, 9,053 offences of coercive control were recorded in the year ending March 20188. Data for the previous year showed that 38 forces recorded a total of 4,246 coercive control offences. This increase is likely to be due to police forces increasing their use of the new law over the last year. More information on coercive and controlling behaviour is published in the Domestic abuse in England and Wales: year ending March 2018 release.

A further change to recording practices is to flag offences where children have been sexually abused or exploited. New experimental statistics for the year ending March 2018 showed the police flagged 55,061 crimes as involving child sexual abuse9 and 15,045 as involving child sexual exploitation10. As with flagging for domestic abuse, the data quality for these figures is variable across police forces but is expected to improve over time. A breakdown of these data across police force areas is available in Other related tables.

Rises in police recorded sexual offences

There was an increase of 14% in the number of sexual offences recorded by the police in the year ending September 2018 compared with the previous year (up to 158,162; Figure 18, Table A4):

  • police recorded rape increased by 16% (to 59,698 offences)

  • other sexual offences increased by 13% (to 101,464 offences)

  • the increase in sexual offences against children11 contributed around one-fifth (20%) to the total increase in the number of sexual offences recorded by the police

A factor in the latest rise is improvements made by the police in the recording of sexual offences. More recent Crime Data Integrity inspections carried out by HMICFRS12 indicate that there is evidence of improvements in the recording of sexual offences made by forces since 2014. However, the level of improvement varies between forces and some have further work to do to ensure that all reports of sexual offences are recorded correctly. Therefore, the increases seen as a result of improved recording may continue for some time.

An increased willingness of victims to come forward and report these crimes to the police is also thought to have contributed to the increase. High-profile coverage of sexual offences and the police response to reports of non-recent sexual offending are other factors that are likely to have influenced police recording of sexual offences. For example, Operation Yewtree, which began in 2012, and more recently, allegations against prominent individuals in Hollywood. Such operations are likely to have an ongoing influence on victims’ willingness to come forward to report both recent and non-recent offences.

For a subset of forces providing data to the Home Office Data Hub13, 25% of sexual offences recorded by the police in the year ending September 2018 were non-recent offences (those that took place more than 12 months before being recorded by the police). Non-recent offences increased by 11% compared with the year ending September 2017, in line with the overall increase over the same period. While non-recent offences remain an important contributor to the latest rise in sexual offences (25%), the rise was due mainly to increases in recent offences (those that took place within 12 months of being recorded by the police).

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 in these types of crime.

Estimates from the CSEW for the year ending March 2018 showed that 2.7% of adults aged 16 to 59 years had been victims of sexual assaults in the last year (including attempted offences), a small but statistically significant increase compared with the previous year’s estimate (2.0%) (Table S36).

This was driven by an increase in our estimates for how many women had been victims of indecent exposure or unwanted sexual touching in the last year (Table S35). From the latest survey data, we estimate that 3.8% of women aged 16 to 59 years were victims of indecent exposure or unwanted sexual touching, an increase of 1.2 percentage points compared with last year’s estimate.

More information on interpreting longer-term trends in these offences can be found in Sexual offences in England and Wales: year ending March 2017; however, this does not include the most recent statistics for the year ending September 2018. The Sexual offending: victimisation and the path through the criminal justice system release also provides more information on sexual offending in England and Wales, bringing together a range of official statistics from across the crime and criminal justice system.

Notes for: What’s happened to the volume of crime recorded by the police?

  1. These reports were published between 2016 and 2019, and the most recent reports were published on 15 January 2019. Seven re-inspection reports have also been published.
  2. Stalking and harassment offences are no longer included within the category of “violence without injury”.
  3. Assaults without injury offences are those where at the most a feeling of touch or passing moment of pain is experienced by the victim.
  4. Stalking and harassment offences have moved out of the subcategory of “violence without injury” and are now in a separate subcategory along with the new notifiable offence of malicious communications. 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”. These were added to the notifiable offence list in April 2015.
  5. Living in fear – the police and CPS response to harassment and stalking inspection report was published in July 2017.
  6. Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 years and over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.
  7. 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.
  8. Data not shown.
  9. Child sexual abuse is defined as “forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts (for example, masturbation, kissing, rubbing, touching outside of clothing and so on). They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet)”.
  10. Child sexual exploitation is defined as “a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 years into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology”.
  11. This includes “rape of a male or female child under 16 years”, “rape of a male or female child under 13 years”, “sexual assault on a male or female child under 13 years”, “sexual activity involving a child under 13 years or under 16 years” and “abuse of children through sexual exploitation”.
  12. Three reports were published between 2016 and 2019, and the most recent reports were published on 15 January 2019. Seven re-inspection reports have also been published.
  13. 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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12. Other sources of data provide a fuller picture of crime

Neither the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) nor the main police recorded crime series cover all crime. This section provides an overview of supplementary data sources, including:

  • the Crime Survey for England and Wales for children aged 10 to 15 years

  • recorded crime data for incidences of anti-social behaviour

  • data concerning non-notifiable offences

  • the Commercial Victimisation Survey, which gathers data on crimes experienced by businesses

Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated 1 in 10 children aged 10 to 15 years were victims of crime

CSEW estimates of crimes experienced by children aged 10 to 15 years (Appendix Tables A9, A10, A11 and A12) are not directly comparable with the main survey of adults, so are not included in the headline totals. However, estimates are presented to provide a better understanding of victimisation experiences among children resident in households. The CSEW estimated that around 1 in 10 children aged 10 to 15 years were victims of at least one crime in the latest year. A total of 727,000 crimes1 were estimated to have been experienced by children aged 10 to 15 years:

  • 57% were violent crimes (414,000), with the majority of these being low-level violence2

  • 28% were thefts of personal property (203,000)

  • 10% were criminal damage to personal property (76,000)

  • 5% were robbery (34,000)

Given the small sample size for the 10-to-15-year-old element of the CSEW, estimates can fluctuate over time and trends can be difficult to interpret.

Increase in anti-social behaviour estimated by the CSEW

The CSEW estimated that 36% of respondents experienced or witnessed anti-social behaviour (ASB) in their local area in the latest survey year, an increase from the previous year (31%). This is the highest percentage since the data were first collected in the year ending March 2012. Further information is available in Figures F1 and F2, and Tables F8 and F9.

Around 1.6 million incidents of ASB were recorded by the police3 (including the British Transport Police4) in the latest year, a decrease of 11% from the previous year (Figure F1). These are incidents that may still be crimes in law, such as littering or dog fouling, but are not severe enough to result in the recording of a notifiable offence and therefore are not included in the main police recorded crime series.

There have been no recent inspections into ASB, however, a review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in 2012 found that there was a wide variation in the quality of decision-making associated with the recording of ASB. As a result, ASB incident data should be interpreted with caution. It is possible that, given the focus on the quality of crime recording, some incidents that may have previously been recorded as ASB have more recently been recorded as crimes. In particular, this is likely to account for some of the recent rise in public order offences.

Non-notifiable offences remain at a similar level to the previous year

In the year ending June 2018 (the latest period for which data are available), there were 1.1 million convictions for non-notifiable offences5 that were not covered in police recorded crime or the CSEW, similar to the number seen in the previous year.

In addition, 11,000 Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) were issued in relation to non-notifiable offences for the year ending June 2018, a decrease of 23% from the year ending June 20176. The majority of these PNDs related to drunk and disorderly behaviour. Further information is available in Tables F10a and F10b.

Wholesale and retail businesses experienced the highest levels of crime

As the CSEW is a survey of the population resident in households, it traditionally has not covered crimes against businesses7. Additionally, the police recorded crime series can only provide a partial picture of crimes against the business community as not all offences come to the attention of the police. The Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS) provides estimates of crime against selected business premises8 covered in its sample and gives some insight into the number of these crimes that go unreported to the police.

The 2017 CVS9 showed that businesses in the wholesale and retail sector experienced the highest levels of crime – an estimated 8.1 million incidents, a rate of around 23,000 incidents per 1,000 business premises (Table F11). However, care must be taken when comparing crime rates over time, based on CVS data. This is because the CVS does not cover all industry sectors (the survey generally covers premises in three or four industrial sectors each year) and sample sizes associated with individual sectors are small.

Notes for: Other sources of data provide a fuller picture of crime

  1. The survey of children aged 10 to 15 years only covers personal-level crime (so excludes household-level crime) and, as with the main survey, does not include sexual offences.
  2. 68% of violent crimes experienced in the latest survey year resulted in minor or no injury.
  3. Cheshire Police were unable to provide ASB figures for March 2018 to September 2018.
  4. It is not possible to look at longer trends in ASB including British Transport Police, as data are only available from the year ending March 2013.
  5. Non-notifiable offences are offences dealt with exclusively by magistrates’ courts or by the police issuing a Penalty Notice for Disorder or a Fixed Penalty Notice. Along with non-notifiable offences dealt with by the police (such as speeding), these include many offences that may be dealt with by other agencies – for example, prosecutions by TV Licensing, or the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) for vehicle registration offences.
  6. A pilot scheme was implemented from November 2014 in Leicestershire, Staffordshire and West Yorkshire police forces to reduce the types of out-of-court disposals available for adult offenders, including limiting their use of Penalty Notices for Disorder (PND). In the pilot areas, the only out-of-court disposals available are community resolutions and conditional cautions. Since the pilot ended in November 2015, these three forces have continued with their limited use of out-of-court disposals and some other forces have also adopted similar policies. This is likely to have been a factor in the declining number of PNDs issued.
  7. Although the recent extension to cover fraud against adults resident in households includes incidents where the victim has been fully (or partially) reimbursed by their financial provider.
  8. This is a premises-based survey; respondents were asked if the business at their current premises had experienced any of a range of crime types in the 12 months prior to interview.
  9. Data from the 2017 CVS are the latest data available.
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13. New and upcoming changes

Improving crime statistics for England and Wales – progress update provides an annual 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, this section provides further detail about changes to the publication of police recorded crime data, and changes to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW).

Improving the treatment of high-frequency repeat victimisation on the Crime Survey

This bulletin is the first release of data following a methodological change to the handling of repeat victimisation in the CSEW. More information on this methodological change and the impact on CSEW estimates can be found in the Things you need to know about this release section of this release.

New data on corruption-related offences

A new classification of recorded crime seeks to identity a sub-set of notifiable offences related to corruption. These initially include the following:

  • 99/7 Offences of bribing another person contrary to section 1 of the Bribery Act 2010

  • 99/8 Offences relating to being bribed contrary to section 2 of the Bribery Act 2010

  • 99/9 Bribery of a foreign public official contrary to section 6 of the Bribery Act 2010

  • 99/10 Failure of a commercial organisation to prevent bribery contrary to section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010

  • 99/12 Misconduct in a public office

As with other types of crime, it is recognised that the recorded crime series will not provide a good measure of the full extent of criminality as not all offences come to the attention of the police. These data are published as Experimental Statistics (see Table F6) while we seek feedback from users. In particular, we would welcome feedback on the following issues:

  • Do users find this new classification useful?

  • Does the current definition include all relevant offences in the recorded crime series?

  • What other data sources could be used to assess the reliability of these statistics?

Crime Severity Score

Experimental Statistics on a Crime Severity Score (CSS) have been released alongside this bulletin. The CSS was developed as an additional measure to supplement existing Office for National Statistics (ONS) statistics on crime. The measure weights different types of crime according to severity, with more serious crimes carrying a higher weight 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.

Changes to the Crime Survey for England and Wales

From April 2018, a number of changes have been made to the CSEW. These follow initial proposals published in a consultation response paper in October 2017. Small reductions have been made in the survey's sample size and target response rate and a series of questions related to the criminal justice system have been removed from the questionnaire.

National Statistics status of fraud and computer misuse

Estimates of fraud and computer misuse were previously classed as Experimental Statistics. Following assessment by the Office for Statistics Regulation in March 2018, they have now been classified as National Statistics.

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14. 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 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 Statistics.

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

A new data quality framework has been compiled to help inform users about the quality of crime statistics for different types of crime and which source is thought to provide the most reliable measure. This can be found in Figure 5 of the User guide.

Table 7 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

  • uses and users of the data

  • quality characteristics of the data

  • used to produce 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 tables1. 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.

Notes for: Quality and methodology

  1. These tables are usually published alongside our year ending March bulletin in July. However, publication of the tables for the year ending March 2018 was delayed while we implemented a change to our method for handling repeat victimisation. These tables have now been published alongside this, year ending September 2018, release.
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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

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