For detailed information about the statistical sources used here, refer to the User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales (ONS, 20151).
Notes for this section:
- This User Guide is the standard source of information on both police recorded crime figures and the CSEW.
Data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) continue to be badged as National Statistics.
The CSEW is a face-to-face survey in which people resident in households in England and Wales are asked about their experiences of crime in the 12 months prior to the interview. The overall target sample size for the survey in the year ending March 2014 was 35,000 households
In the year ending March 2014, the CSEW had achieved a nationally representative sample of 34,906 adults and 2,902 children with response rates of 75% and 68% respectively. The survey is weighted to adjust for possible non-response bias and to ensure the sample reflects the profile of the general population. Being based on a sample survey, CSEW estimates are subject to a margin of error. Unless stated otherwise, all changes in CSEW estimates described in the main text are statistically significant at the 95 per cent level. For more information on statistical significance and confidence intervals for CSEW data, see Section 8 of the User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales (ONS, 2015).
There have been some minor changes to the classifications of CSEW offences, in order to improve coherence of categories and to more closely align them with the presentation of police crime recorded offences. A programme of work to implement these has now been completed and bulletins referring to the year ending 2014 onwards include these revised CSEW classifications (including a full reclassified back series to 2001/02).
These new CSEW classifications do not change the overall number of offences estimated by the survey, just the categories in which they are presented. As part of these the offence category of robbery has been moved out of CSEW ‘Violence’ into a separate standalone category. Further detail on the changes made to the presentation of CSEW statistics can be found in the methodological note ‘Presentational and methodological improvements to National Statistics on the Crime Survey for England and Wales’.
Alongside these classification changes, an additional piece of survey development work was also implemented to produce revised survey weights and a back-series following the release of the 2011 Census-based population estimates. The programme of work to produce the revised weights and key estimates for all survey years back to 2001/02 is now complete and both CSEW and police recorded crime use post 2011 Census population figures. See the methodological note ‘Presentational and methodological improvements to National Statistics on the Crime Survey for England and Wales’ for more information.Back to table of contents
In accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, statistics based on police recorded crime data have been assessed against the Code of Practice for Official Statistics and found not to meet the required standard for designation as National Statistics1. The full assessment report can be found on the UK Statistics Authority website.
Police recorded crime provides sub-national crime statistics, it covers people (for example residents of institutions and tourists) and sectors (for example commercial crime) excluded from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) sample, and has a wider coverage of offences - for example homicide, and ‘crimes against the state’ (for example, drug offences). Police recorded crime also covers some types of serious but relatively less common offences that the CSEW cannot reliably measure. This includes homicide, firearms, and use of knives and sharp instruments for selected violent offences. It should be noted that recorded crime can be influenced by changes in recording practices or police activity.
During 2014, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) carried out a national inspection of crime data integrity. Audits of crime and incident data were carried out between December 2013 and August 2014, looking at crimes recorded between November 2012 and October 2013 across all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
The final report on findings from the HMIC inspections, ‘Crime-recording: making the victim count’, was published on 18th November 2014 and separate crime inspection force reports for each of the 43 police forces in England and Wales were published on 27th November 2014. HMIC concluded that, across England and Wales as a whole an estimated one in five offences (19%) that should have been recorded as crimes were not. The greatest levels of under-recording were seen for violence against the person offences (33%) and sexual offences (26%), however there was considerable variation in the level of under-recording across the different offence types investigated (for example, burglary; 11%).
The report outlines several recommendations to strengthen recording practices in forces. More detail can be found in the User Guide.
Following a consultation with users2, undertaken by ONS in 2012, relating to the presentation of crime statistics, ONS re-designed the classifications used to present police recorded crime statistics to provide a more coherent and consistent set of offence categories and a clearer picture for users. Implemented from July 2013 and incorporated into last year’s ‘Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences’ publication, these changes have not affected the coverage of offences in the police recorded crime series, and have been restricted to movement of offences across categories.
As part of the re-classification work, homicide is now presented as a separate sub-category of violence against the person. The re-classification work has also involved moving selected offences into different groups to better reflect the nature of the offences. For example, some offences relating to the possession of weapons and the offence of ‘Public fear, alarm or distress’, where there is no identifiable victim, were moved from ‘Violence against the person without injury’ to new, more appropriate sub-categories within ‘Other crimes against society’ namely ‘Possession of weapons offences’ and ‘Public order offences’. A more in-depth explanation of police recorded re-classifications can be found in the methodological note ‘Presentational changes to National Statistics on police recorded crime in England and Wales’.
Notes for police recorded crime
The full assessment report on Crime Statistics in England and Wales can be found on the UK Statistics Authority website.
For more details see the ‘Future dissemination strategy for the publication of National Statistics on Crime in England and Wales’.
The Home Office Homicide Index is a database which contains detailed record-level information including victim and suspect details and the circumstances of the offence, for each homicide recorded by police in England and Wales. It is continually updated with revised information from the police and the courts and, as such, is a richer source of data than the main recorded crime dataset. Data presented in this release therefore differ slightly from the homicide figures presented in the Crime in England and Wales quarterly releases.
While the Homicide Index is covered by the de-designation of all data based on police recorded crime, Home Office and ONS statisticians do not have significant concerns about the accuracy of recording of homicides. However, ONS accepts that there is currently insufficient evidence to provide that assurance. The ONS will work with partners to obtain fuller information on the quality of the Homicide Index and will request a re-assessment by the UK Statistics Authority in due course.Back to table of contents
Information is available from the police on whether a firearm is used during any recorded notifiable offence. If a firearm had been used, the Home Office receive additional data about the circumstances of that offence. Offences involving the use of firearms relate to any crime recorded by the police where a firearm has been discharged, used as a blunt instrument or in a threat. Firearm possession offences, where the firearm has not been used, are not included. Firearms covered by the Firearms Act 1968 include handguns, shotguns, rifles, imitation weapons, air weapons and some other weapon types such as CS gas and pepper sprays.Back to table of contents
Since January 2009, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) has asked children aged 10 to 15 resident in households in England and Wales about their experience of crime in the previous 12 months. The questionnaire has been refined since its inception with the most recent data published in Crime in England and Wales, year ending September 2014. Violence accounts for a large proportion of the crimes experienced by 10 to15 year olds. Methodological differences mean that direct comparisons cannot be made between the adult and child data (Millard and Flatley, 2010).Children are not asked questions about intimate violence reported on in the last section of this bulletin.Back to table of contents
Figures on prevalence of domestic violence based on face-to-face Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) interviews are regularly published (for example, many of the Appendix tables and ‘Nature of crime’ tables published with this release break violence down into different categories, including one labelled ‘domestic violence’).
The issue of willingness to disclose incidents in face-to-face interviews means that this crime type is particularly liable to under-reporting using this method. Since 2004/05 respondents have been asked a self-completion set of questions, in addition to the questions asked by interviewers directly, to provide a more complete measure of intimate violence victimisation.
The self-completion set of questions provide estimates of non-sexual abuse by partners or family members, and sexual assault and stalking, which can be combined in several ways. Only a small proportion (5%) of respondents who reported being victims of domestic abuse in the self-completion module had reported that they were victims of domestic violence in face-to-face interviews, reflecting both the broader scope of domestic abuse, and the sensitivity and complexity of this topic. A full discussion of the definitions, issues, and estimates from this module can be found in the ‘Intimate Personal Violence and Serious Sexual Assault’ chapter.
In the 2010/11 CSEW, a split sample experiment was started to test a set of alternative questions on intimate violence. The split sample experiment considered the use of explicit language in the questions and the ease of answering the questions as a respondent. After some further development for the 2012/13 survey, the new questions were incorporated for the whole sample for the 2013/14 CSEW. More information on the development of the new questions can be found in the accompanying methodological note.Back to table of contents
NHS hospital admissions are collated from Hospital Episodes Statistics (HES). They include patient-level data on hospital admissions (inpatient episodes), outpatient appointments, and Accident and Emergency attendances. Inpatient episodes have been collected since 1989.
The data include specific information about the patient, such as age, gender and ethnicity; clinical information about diagnoses, operations and consultant specialties; administrative information, such as time waited, and dates and methods of admission and discharge; and geographical information such as where the patient was treated and the area in which they live. The external cause data includes specific codes for assault by various means (for example: sharp object, blunt object, handgun discharge, etc.).
While the inpatient data are unaffected by police enforcement activity, in contrast to police recorded crime data, and are generally considered to be complete and robust, there are three key caveats to their use. First, it should be remembered that HES data relates to hospital activity not individuals. For example, apparent reductions in activity may be due to procedures being undertaken in outpatient settings and therefore no longer being included in admitted patient data. Second, the admissions data do not include cases where someone came to Accident and Emergency with a violence-related injury but was not admitted (for example, minor injuries) or refused treatment. Third, there are potential recording differences in the external cause coding between Trusts. For example, injury information could be missing from the admission episode record and added later to a subsequent episode record. In addition, the coding is dependent on the clinician’s judgement about the underlying cause of the admission, which may be difficult to ascertain.Back to table of contents
Release tables published alongside this commentary include a set of bulletin tables containing the data tables and numbers appearing behind graphs in this publication, and more detailed estimates and counts of crime levels as set out in the table below.
The following are URL links associated with the production of Crime Statistics.
Analysis of Variation in Crime Trends (methodological note)
‘Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/13’. Published 13 February 2014
‘Focus on Victimisation and Public Perceptions 2012/13’. Published 30 May 2014
‘Focus on Property Crime, 2013/14’. Published 27 November 2014
Anonymised datasets from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (in SPSS format) currently are available on:
In addition to these Official Statistics releases, provisional police recorded crime data drawn from local management information systems sit behind, street level figures released each month, via:
Crime Statistics for Scotland are available from the Scottish Government
Crime Statistics for Northern Ireland are available from the Police Service of Northern Ireland