1. Main points

  • Violent crime covers a wide spectrum of offences. Between the year ending December 1995 and the year ending March 2015 surveys, the number of CSEW violent crime incidents has fallen from 3.8 million to 1.3 million. However, there was no significant change in the number of violent incidents between the year ending March 2014 and the year ending March 2015.

  • Improvements in crime recording processes by the police are thought to be the main driver of a 23% rise in the number of violence against the person offences recorded in the year ending March 2015 compared with the previous year.

  • The number of sexual offences in the year ending March 2015 (88,106) was the highest figure recorded by the police since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in 2002. As well as improvements in recording practices, this is thought to reflect a greater willingness of victims to come forward to report such crimes. Estimates from the CSEW self-completion module show that there has been no significant change in the proportion of victims of sexual assault from the previous year.

  • Violence without injury accounted for almost half (48%) of all CSEW violent incidents in the year ending March 2015, while the more serious crimes of assault with minor injury and wounding accounted for 27% and 24% respectively.

  • Reflecting the overall downward trend in the volume of incidents measured by the CSEW, victimisation rates have declined over time. When CSEW violent crime was at its peak in 1995, 4.8% of adults aged 16 and over were a victim of violent crime, compared with 1.8% in the year ending March 2015.

  • Consistent with previous years, the proportion of adult victims of violent crime varied by personal and household characteristics. For example, males were more likely to be a victim of violent crime than females, as were adults aged 16 to 24 compared with all other age groups. Adults in low income households were more likely to be a victim than those in higher income households.

  • Similar to the previous year, 49% of violent incidents became known to the police, compared with 40% for all incidents of CSEW crime.

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2. Summary

This overview covers statistics on violent offences recorded by the police and those measured by the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). It also discusses CSEW data contained within the ‘Nature of Crime’ tables published alongside this release, which provide more detailed information on the circumstances of such offences. In addition it shows how rates of victimisation vary by different personal and area characteristics.

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3. Introduction

Violent crime covers a wide range of offences, from minor assaults such as pushing and shoving that result in no physical harm through to serious incidents of wounding and homicide. Sexual offences include rape, sexual assault and unlawful sexual activity against adults and children, sexual grooming and indecent exposure.

Police recorded crime encompasses a full range of violent crimes and sexual offences, although is restricted to those crimes that have been reported to and recorded by them. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) covers crimes against the population of England and Wales resident in households, and crimes against those households. It covers a narrower range of offences than police recorded crime, although it provides a good measure of the volume of violent crime offences as it is able to capture offences experienced by respondents that have not been reported to or recorded by the police. Therefore reported volumes of CSEW violent crime are higher than those included in the police recorded crime collection. The CSEW does not include homicides or sexual offences in its headline estimates, although it does contain a separate self-completion module which asks 16 to 59 year old respondents about their experience of intimate violence (see the ‘Intimate Personal Violence and Partner Abuse’ chapter of this release). The CSEW also does not cover the population living in group residences (for example, care homes or halls of residence) or other institutions, nor does it cover the population not resident in households (for example, tourists or visitors), or crimes against the commercial or business sector.

In 2009, the CSEW was extended to cover children aged 10 to 15, and, where appropriate, data for this age group are presented in this Overview chapter. Methodological differences between the adult and children’s survey mean that direct comparisons cannot be made between the adult and child victimisation data.1

CSEW violent crime

Violent crime statistics from the CSEW are presented under the overall category of ‘Violence’, and include offences involving violence with injury (wounding, assault with minor injury), and violence without injury. There are additional breakdowns for the offender-victim relationship.

Therefore, references to ‘violent crime’ and ‘violence’ within the CSEW-related text, figures and tables of this bulletin refer primarily to the CSEW crimes of wounding, assault with minor injury, and violence without injury.

Police recorded violent crime

The coverage of police recorded crime is defined by the Notifiable Offence List2, which includes a broad range of violent offences, ranging from threats to kill, harassment, and assault without injury, to offences such as homicide3.

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 Statistics. The full assessment report can be found on the UK Statistics Authority website. Data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) continue to be badged as National Statistics.

Additionally, following an inquiry by the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) into crime statistics in which allegations of under-recording of crime by the police were made4, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) carried out an inspection of the integrity of police crime recording during 2014.

The final report on findings from the HMIC inspections, ‘Crime-recording: making the victim count’, was published on 18 November 20145. Based on an audit of a large sample of records, HMIC concluded that, across England and Wales as a whole an estimated 1 in 5 offences (19%) that should have been recorded as crimes were not. The greatest levels of under-recording were seen for sexual offences and violence against the person offences. Across England and Wales, an estimated 1 in 4 (26%) sexual offences and 1 in 3 (33%) violent offences that should have been recorded as crimes were not.

As a result of the renewed focus on the quality of crime recording by the police, caution should therefore be taken when interpreting police recorded crime trends. For more information see the ‘Accuracy of the statistics’ section in the statistical bulletin, Crime in England and Wales, year ending March 2015. In addition to data on the number of offences recorded by the police, the Home Office Data Hub provides more detailed information about a crime by collecting record-level data on offences. Such details include characteristics of victims of offences and associated aggravating factors of crimes, and allow for a wider range of analyses to be carried out than is possible through the standard police data returns. For more information see the ‘Experimental Statistics: New Data on Police Recorded Violent and Sexual Offences, year ending March 2015’ section of this publication.

Notes for introduction

  1. See Experimental statistics on victimisation of children aged 10 to 15 for more detail.

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

  3. There are some crimes which are not captured in this bulletin, which may involve some degree of violence but which do not have a specific victim, for example, public order offences. See Appendix table A4, year ending September 2015 (851 Kb Excel sheet) for police recorded figures for public order offences.

  4. Part of the evidence considered by PASC included analysis demonstrating a growing pattern of divergence between police recorded crime figures and CSEW estimates (see Methodological note: Analysis of variation in crime trends) which has questioned whether there may have been a 'gradual erosion of compliance' with the NCRS from 2007.

  5. Separate Crime data integrity force reports for each of the 43 police forces in England and Wales were published on 28 August 2014.

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4. Extent of violent crime

In the year ending March 2015 CSEW, it was estimated that there were 1.3 million incidents of violence against adults in England and Wales1 (Appendix Table A1, year ending March 2015 (623 Kb Excel sheet)). Violence without injury (where the victim is punched, kicked, pushed or jostled with no resulting injury) accounted for just under half (48%) of all CSEW violent incidents (Figure 1.1).

Violence with injury is broken down into assault with minor injury (where the victim is punched, kicked, pushed or jostled with resulting minor injury, such as scratches or bruises) which, similar to previous years, accounted for 27% of violent incidents, and wounding (where the incident results in severe or less serious injury2) which made up 24% of incidents.

The CSEW also estimates the number of crimes against children aged 10 to 15 resident in households3. The year ending March 2015 CSEW estimated that there were 373,000 violent offences4 against such children in England and Wales. This equates to 5.7% of children being a victim of violent crime in this period; with just under half of these, 2.8% of children, having experienced assault with minor injury (Bulletin table 23, year ending March 2015). As noted in Section 2.4 of the report on Experimental statistics on victimisation of children aged 10-15, these data are not directly comparable with the data related to adults. The Home Office Data Hub provides record level data on child victims of police recorded violent crime (see the ‘Experimental Statistics: New Data on Police Recorded Violent and Sexual Offences, year ending March 2015’ section of this release).

There were 778,870 violence against the person offences recorded by the police in the year ending March 20155. Of these, 48% (374,159) were classified as violence with injury and 52% (404,174) as violence without injury. Importantly, police recording of a crime is based on the element of intent rather than outcome. Therefore incidents classified as violence with injury will include crimes based on the deliberate attempt of the offender to cause serious bodily harm, regardless of whether any injury was sustained by the victim. Data on homicide is available through 2 sources of data, the Home Office Homicide Index and the main recorded crime data return. Homicides accounted for 537 (0.1%) of the total violence against the person offences recorded in the year ending March 2015. Please see the ‘Homicide’ chapter of this publication for more information.

Over two-thirds of violence without injury offences were classified as assaults without injury6 (68%), with the remainder covering a range of offences, including harassments7, and threats to kill. From April 2014, a separate notifiable offence of stalking was introduced as a result of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. Stalking offences were previously embedded within other categories, including harassment. This change in the law should therefore be taken into account when looking at trends in harassment (Appendix Table A4, year ending September 2015 (851 Kb Excel sheet)).

The majority of violence with injury offences recorded by the police (93%) were classified as assaults with injury. Assaults with intent to cause serious harm made up the majority of the remaining violence with injury offences (5%).

‘High harm’ violent crimes such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and modern slavery have received an increased focus recently, yet neither the CSEW or police recorded crime are good sources of data for these crimes. FGM offences that do come to the attention of the police are included within the category of ‘assault with injury’. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) have published experimental statistics on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)8. These statistics have been collected by hospitals to obtain a better picture of the prevalence of FGM9, but only include cases that have surfaced as a result of a victim receiving medical treatment and will understate the true volume of such offences.

Modern slavery can take multiple forms, including sexual exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 legislated to define it as a criminal offence in its own right and came into force on 31 July 2015. The Act makes provision "about slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour and about human trafficking, including provision for the protection of victims; to make provision for an Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner; and for connected purposes".

Modern slavery was previously not classified as an individual offence, but recorded under trafficking for sexual exploitation, immigration offences, and other indictable or triable-either-way offences. Modern slavery is not included in the statistics for the year ending March 2015, but as of 1 April 2015 a separately identifiable offence of modern slavery was introduced under the category ‘violence without injury’. For the most recent police recorded figures on modern slavery, see Crime in England and Wales, year ending September 2015.

Notes for extent of violent crime

  1. 'All violence' includes violence with injury (wounding, assault with minor injury), and violence without injury. For more information see Chapter 5.1 of the User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales.

  2. For example, cuts, severe bruising, chipped teeth, bruising or scratches resulting in medical attention or any more serious injury.

  3. These are based on a ‘preferred measure’ that takes into account factors identified as important in determining the severity of an incident such as the relationship of the victim to the offender and the level of injury to the victim. See Chapter 2.5 of the User Guide for further information.

  4. With regard to CSEW violent crime against children aged 10 to 15, robbery is still included in the category of violence in the year ending March 2015 CSEW. However, in the latest quarterly publications for the year ending June 2015 and the year ending September 2015, robbery is now excluded from the category of ‘Violence’ to be consistent with the main survey.

  5. Recorded crime figures presented in this release are those notified to the Home Office and that were recorded in the Home Office database on 3 December 2015, covering the financial year ending March 2015 – see Appendix Table A4 (851 Kb Excel sheet) for the full data table.

  6. Assaults without injury offences are those where at the most a feeling of touch or passing moment of pain is experienced by the victim.
  7. Harassment offences are those incidents where no other substantive notifiable offence exists, but when looked at as a course of conduct are likely to cause fear, alarm or distress.

  8. Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Center on Female Genital Mutilation do not include figures for Wales and relate to activity in English foundation and non-foundation trusts including A&E departments.

  9. Clinical staff must record in patient healthcare records when it is identified that a patient has undergone FGM. This applies to all NHS clinicians and healthcare professionals across the NHS. However, the requirement to submit the FGM Prevalence Dataset is only mandatory for Foundation and non-Foundation trusts, including Accident and Emergency departments. Other organisations (which may include GPs) may wish to provide an FGM Prevalence Dataset centrally, the FGM Data Quality Note contains further information.

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6. Type of violence

Trends in CSEW violence by type of violence1 show large reductions across all violent crime types between current estimates and those in the mid to late 1990s (Figure 1.3). Assaults with minor injury have decreased by 73% between the peak in the year ending December 1995 and the year ending March 2015, while wounding and violence without injury decreased by 65% and 59% respectively over the same time period.

There were an estimated 638,000 incidents of violence without injury in the year ending March 2015, the lowest since the survey began. There was no change from the previous year, with the apparent 8% decrease not statistically significant.

Wounding and assaults with minor injury saw non-significant rises in the same period, of 4% and 12% respectively. The estimates of the numbers of incidents remain among the lowest since the survey began.

Within the overall category of police recorded violence against the person, there were 374,159 offences of violence with injury in the year ending March 2015, an increase of 16% from the previous year. This follows a fluctuating trend since the year ending March 2003, where violence with injury peaked to 543,500 offences in the year ending March 2006, and then gradually declined before rising again from the year ending March 2014. The number of violence without injury offences has remained at a similar level over time, seeing minor year on year fluctuations since the year ending March 2003. There was a 30% increase in police recorded violence without injury between the year ending March 2014 and the year ending March 2015. The majority of the increase in violence without injury was made up of threats to kill and child abduction, which increased by 53% and 45% respectively. (Appendix Table A4, year ending September 2015 (851 Kb Excel sheet)).

The large increases between the year ending March 2014 and the year ending March 2015 are mostly a result of improved compliance with the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) rather than a genuine rise in violent crime2. It is thought that recording improvements are more likely to affect relatively less serious violent offences, which explains the larger increase in violence without injury compared with violence with injury. Evidence provided by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) states that, whilst police recorded violence against the person increased by 23%, in the year ending March 2015 the number of “calls for service” relating to violent crime rose by 1%. Calls for service refer to emergency and non-emergency calls from members of the public and referrals from partner agencies (such as education, health, and social services) for police to attend an incident or investigate a case. This, along with evidence from the CSEW, suggests that the rise in recorded violence against the person is largely due to process improvements rather than a genuine rise in violent crime.

Notes for type of violence

  1. See Chapter 5.1 of the User Guide for more information on the offences included in this breakdown.

  2. The inspections took place over the period December 2013 to August 2014, which falls within the time period covered by this release. The current year covers the period April 2014 to March 2015 and the previous year covers the period April 2013 to March 2014.

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7. Relationship between victims and perpetrators of violence

Findings from the CSEW show that in the year ending March 2015, 43% of offences (563,000) were perpetrated by a stranger1, 36% (469,000) by an acquaintance2, and the remaining 20% (261,000) were categorised as domestic violence (Appendix Table A6, year ending March 2015 (623 Kb Excel sheet)). Domestic violence here refers to incidents reported through the face-to-face interview questions3, however it is important to bear in mind that domestic violence measured this way is prone to under-reporting; therefore the figure mentioned above is likely to be an underestimation. Of those aged 16 to 59 who reported being victims of physical domestic abuse in the self-completion4 module, only 14% also reported being a victim of domestic violence in the last 12 months in face-to-face interviews.

This measure of domestic violence is also impacted by the current method of dealing with high frequency repeat victimisation. CSEW estimates of the number of crimes only include the first 5 incidents in a ‘series’ of victimisations, that is, “the same thing, done under the same circumstances and probably by the same people”. This restriction to the first 5 incidents in a series has been applied since the CSEW began in order to ensure that estimates are not affected by a very small number of respondents who report an extremely high number of incidents and which are highly variable between survey years.

A report by Walby et al. (2014) ‘Mainstreaming domestic and gender-based violence into sociology and the criminology of violence’ included some analysis of the impact of the current method on the number of domestic violence incidents in a series. Preliminary analysis suggested that using unrestricted counts of high frequency victimisation would lead to unwelcome volatility in CSEW estimates.

'Is Violent Crime Increasing or Decreasing? A New Methodology to Measure Repeat Attacks Making Visible the Significance of Gender and Domestic Relations' assesses the impact of counting all incidents over 3-year moving averages, rather than counting only the first 5 incidents in a series. We are currently looking at options for better reflecting the experiences of repeat victims of violent crime in the official statistics, and the analysis conducted by Walby et al. will be considered as part of this work.

The separate self-completion section of the survey, collected on a comparable basis since the year ending March 2005, is the more complete measure of such crime and reveals higher levels of domestic abuse victimisation, and provides a greater level of detail (see the ‘Intimate Personal Violence and Partner Abuse’ chapter of this release)5.

Incidents of CSEW domestic violence peaked at 1.1 million offences in the year ending December 1993, and have since fallen by 77% to 261,000 offences in the year ending March 2015. This showed no change from the previous year, the apparent 7% decrease was not statistically significant and follows a period of fluctuations since the year ending March 2006 (Figure 1.4).

CSEW acquaintance violence fell by 74% from the peak of 1.8 million offences in the year ending December 1995, to 469,000 offences in the year ending March 2015. There was no change in acquaintance violence between the year ending March 2014 and the year ending March 2015 (4% decrease was not significant). Acquaintance violence in particular is a large-volume offence, and its substantial changes seen since the mid 1990s have been an important driver of changes in overall violence.

Incidents of stranger violence have fallen by 44% from the peak of 1 million offences in the year ending December 1995, to 563,000 offences in the year ending March 2015. Similar to domestic violence and acquaintance violence, there was no statistically significant change in stranger violence (2% increase) from the previous year.

Notes for relationship between victims and perpetrators of violence

  1. Stranger violence includes wounding and assaults in which the victim did not have any information about the offender(s), or did not know and had never seen the offender(s) before.

  2. Acquaintance violence is comprised of wounding and assaults in which the victim knew one or more of the offenders at least by sight. It does not include domestic violence.

  3. In a ‘face-to-face’ interview, an interviewer reads the questions out to the respondent and records the answers given.

  4. Self-completion’ means that the respondent reads the questions themselves and records their answers directly onto a laptop.

  5. The self-completion module gives a more accurate picture of the extent of domestic abuse as it uses a broader definition that includes emotional or financial abuse or threats to hurt the respondent or someone close to them. It is also thought that respondents are more willing to report domestic abuse in this self-completion module than in the face-to-face part of the survey.

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8. Sexual offences

There were 88,106 police recorded sexual offences in the year ending March 2015, an increase of 37% compared with the previous year. This is the highest figure recorded by the police and the largest annual percentage increase since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in April 2002.

Within the overall increase, the number of offences of rape increased by 41% to 29,234 offences, and the number of other sexual offences increased by 35% to 58,872 offences (Appendix Table A4, year ending September 2015 (851 Kb Excel sheet)). Both rape and other sexual offences are at the highest level since the NCRS was introduced in April 2002.

The increase in police recorded sexual offences should be seen in the context of a number of high profile reports and inquiries which are thought to have resulted in police forces reviewing and improving their recording practices. These include:

  • the investigation by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI)1 in 2012, which highlighted the need to improve the recording and investigation of sexual offences

  • concerns about the recording of sexual offences, for example, in evidence presented to the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) inquiry into crime statistics2, and arising from other high profile cases

  • the creation of the ‘Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse’, which was set up to consider whether, and the extent to which, public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales

HMIC’s inspection of crime recording, published in late 2014, concluded that across England and Wales an estimated 1 in 4 (26%) sexual offences that should have been recorded as crimes were not3.

The inspection also found that some police forces had poor processes for crime recording in specialist units responsible for investigations of rape and other sexual offences, or those more generally protecting vulnerable people, including children, mentally ill and infirm people. In some forces, such units were found to have standalone case management systems or mailboxes which were often used for referrals between specialist departments and partner organisations (such as health or social services). HMIC found records of crimes on these systems which had not made it onto the force’s main crime recording system. Those that had not been recorded on the force’s crime recording system would therefore not have fed through into official statistics. As forces have taken steps to improve their systems and recording processes, it is likely that proportionately more referrals are now appearing in the official statistics.

Previous increases in the number of sexual offences reported to the police were shown to have been related also to a rise in the reporting of historical (those that took place over 12 months before being reported) offences following ‘Operation Yewtree’, which began in 20124. Feedback from forces indicates that both current and historical offences continued to rise in the year ending March 2015 compared with the previous year. However, the major contribution to this increase is believed to have come from current offences.

More information on sexual offending from across the crime and criminal justice system can be found in ‘An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales’. This is a joint publication compiled by the Ministry of Justice, Home Office and the Office for National Statistics which was published in January 2013, and used combined CSEW data from the year ending March 2010 to the year ending March 2012.

Notes for sexual offences

  1. Forging the links: Rape investigation, HMIC and HMCPSI, 2012 has further information.

  2. The Sexual Offences Act 2003, introduced in May 2004, altered the definition and coverage of sexual offences.

  3. For more information see the ‘Accuracy of the Statistics’ section in the statistical bulletin, Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending September 2014.

  4. For more information see Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending September 2013.

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9. Additional information on violent crime from the CSEW

The following sections of the Overview contain additional analysis from the CSEW including levels of victimisation, timing and location of incidents, reporting to the police, profile of offenders, impact on victims and use of weapons. Additional information on intimate personal violence can be found in the ‘Intimate Personal Violence and Partner Abuse’ chapter of this publication.

Levels of victimisation

The CSEW provides victimisation rates for overall violence and for each individual type of violence. In the year ending March 2015, 1.8% of adults aged 16 and over were a victim of violent crime; 0.9% were a victim of violence without injury, 0.5% a victim of wounding, and 0.5% a victim of assault with minor injury (Figure 1.5). These figures have not changed from the previous year.

Victimisation rates for violent crime have fallen considerably since 1995 when crime was at its peak. The year ending December 1995 CSEW estimated that 4.8% of adults aged 16 and over were a victim of violence, more than double the figure for the year ending March 2015 survey (1.8%).

Victimisation rates for all types of CSEW violence have dropped by more than half between the year ending December 1995 and the year ending March 2015. The largest decline in the victimisation rates over this period is for assault with minor injury, which at 0.5% in the year ending March 2015 was a quarter of the rate in the year ending December 1995 (1.9%).

In the year ending March 2015, the CSEW estimated that 5.2% of children aged 10 to 15 were a victim of violent crime, showing no significant change from the previous year. Children were more commonly victims of violence with injury than violence without injury (3.7% of children compared with 1.6%)1 (Appendix Table A9, year ending September 2015 (851 Kb Excel sheet)).

Notes for additional information on violent crime from the CSEW

  1. Some methodological differences between the adult and children’s survey mean that direct comparisons cannot be made between the adult and child victimisation data.
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10. Repeat victimisation

For the year ending March 2015, the CSEW showed that 77% of victims of violence were victimised once, while 23% were victimised more than once. This repeat victimisation can be broken down further, with 10% victimised twice, and 14% victimised 3 times or more (Annual Trend and Demographic Table D5, year ending March 2015 (381.5 Kb Excel sheet)). Although the level of repeat victimisation shows no change from the previous year (the fall from 27% was not statistically significant), the latest figure is the lowest since the survey began.

In the year ending December 1995 when CSEW violence peaked, 69% of violent incidents were experienced by repeat victims, compared with 52% in the year ending March 2015 (Annual Trend and Demographic Table D7, year ending March 2015). Between the year ending December 1995 and the year ending March 2015, the number of incidents of violence experienced by repeat victims decreased by 74%, compared with a decrease of 46% in the number of incidents experienced by those who were victimised once. The decrease in the volume of incidents of violence over this period has therefore been influenced more by the fall in repeat victimisations than the fall in one-off victimisations. This pattern (repeated across most crime types) is an important factor in considering the drop in crime since the mid-1990s. For more information on repeat victimisation for other crime types, see Focus on Property Crime, 2012 to 13 (Chapter 2).

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11. Characteristics associated with being a victim

The proportion of adult victims of violent crime in the year ending March 2015 varied by certain personal and household characteristics (see Appendix Tables 1.01 and 1.02 (1.59 Mb Excel sheet) for a full breakdown). Many of the characteristics are closely associated, so caution is needed in the interpretation of these different characteristics when viewed in isolation. Separate analysis on the characteristics associated with being a victim of intimate personal violence is available in the ‘Intimate Personal Violence and Partner Abuse’ chapter of this publication.

  • Men were more likely to be a victim of violent crime than women (2.4% of males compared with 1.3% of females1, Figure 1.6)2.

  • Stranger violence showed the largest difference in victimisation between men and women (1.4% and 0.4% respectively).

  • Women were more likely to be a victim of domestic violence than men (0.4% compared with 0.2%, Appendix Table 1.03 (1.59 Mb Excel sheet)).

  • Adults aged 16 to 24 were more likely to be a victim of violent crime (4.2%) than any other age group.

  • Separated adults were more than four times as likely to be a victim of violent crime (4.2%) than adults who were married/civil partnered (1.0%).

  • Domestic violence was more common among separated adults (1.9%) compared with married/civil partnered adults (0.1%).

  • Stranger violence was more likely to affect adults who were single (1.5%) than those who were married/civil partnered (0.6%).

  • Adults of a mixed or multiple ethnic background were more likely to be a victim of violent crime (5.8%) than those from a White (1.8%), Asian/Asian British (1.2%) or Other ethnic group (1.2%).

  • Full-time students were more likely to be a victim of violent crime (3.4%) than those in other occupations (Appendix Table 1.03 (1.59 Mb Excel sheet)).

  • Renters were more likely to be a victim of a violent crime than home owners (2.7% of social renters and 3.0% of private renters compared with 1.2% of home owners, Appendix Table 1.02 (1.59 Mb Excel sheet)).

  • Adults in low income households of less than £10,000 were more likely to be a victim of violence (3.3%) compared with those households with higher incomes.

The children’s survey covering respondents aged 10 to 15 showed that boys were more likely than girls to have experienced violent crime (7.2% compared with 4.3%). See Tables D3 and D4 of the Annual Trend and Demographic Tables, year ending March 2015 (381.5 Kb Excel sheet) for more information.

Notes for characteristics associated with being a victim

  1. This pattern is different for domestic violence and sexual violence. For more information please see the ‘Intimate Personal Violence and Partner Abuse’ chapter of this publication.

  2. These estimates contrast with police recorded data from the Home Office Data Hub, which found that the victim was female in 52% of violent offences and male in 48% of offences (see the ‘Experimental Statistics: New Data on Police Recorded Violent and Sexual Offences, year ending March 2015’ of this release for more detail).

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12. Reporting to the police

In the year ending March 2015, the CSEW showed that the police came to know about 49% of violent incidents. This is similar to the figure for the previous year (50%), but shows a 7 percentage point increase from the year ending March 2012, where 42% of violent incidents became known to the police. This change, along with lower figures in earlier years, suggests that reporting rates have increased within the last few years (Annual Trend and Demographic Table D8, year ending March 2015). This latest reporting rate for violence compares with a reporting rate for all CSEW crime of 40%.

As in previous years, variations in reporting rates continue to occur by violence type, with the police coming to know about 44% of incidents of assault with minor injury or no injury in the year ending March 2015, compared with 65% of wounding incidents (Figure 1.7). This suggests that respondents are more likely to report more serious incidents to the police.

In the year ending March 2015, the CSEW showed that 6% of violent incidents experienced by children aged 10 to 15 became known to the police (Nature of Crime Table 4.5 (132 Kb Excel sheet)).

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13. Timing of violent crimes

In the survey interview, victims of violent crime were asked about the circumstances of the incident, including when it happened. In the year ending March 2015, the CSEW indicated that the majority of violent incidents (57%) occurred in the evening or during the night (Table 1.1). Despite some year on year fluctuations, this figure was significantly lower than the year ending March 2014, where 68% of violent incidents occurred in the evening or during the night (Nature of Crime Table 3.3 (393 Kb Excel sheet)).

Looking at the days of the week on which violent offences take place, for overall violence, 47% of incidents occurred during the week and 53% of incidents occurred at the weekend (Table 1.1). It is probable that most of the incidents occurring at the weekend took place on Friday or Saturday night. Information on police recorded crime for 28 forces from the Home Office Data Hub1 supports this finding, with Friday and Saturday showing the highest proportion of violent crimes recorded between the hours of 9pm to 3am (39% and 41% of all weekend violent crime respectively). This is likely to reflect the greater influence of alcohol consumption on these particular days and times.

In the year ending March 2015, 92% of incidents of violence against children aged 10 to 15 occurred during the week and 8% of incidents occurred at the weekend. This highlights the different lifestyles of children compared with adults, and also reflects the fact that a large proportion of violent incidents against children (76%) occurred in and around school (Nature of Crime Table 4.1 (132 Kb Excel sheet)).

Notes for timing of violent crimes

  1. The Data Hub includes additional information provided by police forces, such as when an offence took place, as well as when it was recorded by the police.
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14. Where violent crimes happen

As in previous years, the CSEW shows that in the year ending March 2015, the location of where incidents of violent crime took place varied by the offender-victim relationship. The large majority of incidents of domestic violence occurred around the home (67%), compared with incidents of stranger violence which were most likely to occur in an ‘other’ location1 (32%) and in pubs or clubs (28%); incidents of acquaintance violence were most likely to take place at work (30%) (Figure 1.8).

Looking at the location of these incidents split by type of violent crime (Nature of Crime Table 3.2 (393 Kb Excel sheet)), incidents of wounding were equally likely to occur around the home or in a pub or club (19% each) but most commonly occurred in an ‘other’ location (38%). In comparison, assault with minor injury was most likely to occur around the home (30%). Incidents of violence without injury were more likely to happen at work than incidents of violence with injury (28% compared with 16%).

Notes for where violent crimes happen

  1. ‘Other location’ includes car parks, inside or grounds of a shop/supermarket, a school/college/university, a friend's home, a place of entertainment, sports centre or somewhere else.
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15. Profile of offenders involved in violent crimes

Victims of violent crime were able to provide some detail about the offender(s) in 98% of incidents (Nature of Crime Table 3.1 (393 Kb Excel sheet)). Offenders were most likely to be male, with males found to be the offender in over three-quarters of violent incidents (81%). Offenders were also most likely to be aged between 25 and 39, with the offender believed to belong to this age group in just under half of violent incidents (46%).

In 71% of violent incidents where the victim could provide some detail about the offender, a sole offender was believed to have been involved. For incidents with more than one offender, victims most commonly reported that 4 or more offenders were involved (14% of incidents). The number of offenders involved varies by type of violence. In the year ending March 2015, 95% of domestic violence incidents involved only one offender, whereas 71% of acquaintance violence incidents and 57% of stranger violence incidents involved only one offender. A quarter of violent incidents committed by a stranger involved 4 or more offenders.

In 42% of violent incidents the offender was a stranger; in 39% the offender was well known to the victim and in 19% the offender was known by sight or to speak to. In around half of incidents of wounding (45%) and assault with minor injury (52%), the offender was well known to the victim, compared with around a quarter of incidents of violence without injury (27%). The offender was a stranger in 52% of incidents of violence without injury, compared with 35% of wounding and 32% of assault with minor injury incidents.

According to the year ending March 2015 CSEW, victims believed the offender(s) to be under the influence of alcohol in just under half (47%) of all violent incidents, or an estimated 592,000 offences1. In nearly one-fifth (19%), or an estimated 241,000 violent incidents, the victim believed the offender(s) to be under the influence of drugs. Although the number of incidents where the offender was believed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs has fallen over the last 10 years, the proportions of all violent incidents have remained similar. The number of incidents where the offender was under the influence of alcohol or drugs has decreased alongside a fall in the overall level of violent crime (Nature of Crime Table 3.11 (393 Kb Excel sheet)). See the ‘Experimental Statistics: New Data on Police Recorded Violent and Sexual Offences, year ending March 2015’ section of this release for information on alcohol-related police recorded violent crime.

In the year ending March 2015 CSEW, the victim was able to say something about the offender in 95% of violent incidents against children aged 10 to 15. Incidents of violence against children were most likely to be committed by someone known well to the victim (58% of incidents), with a small proportion of incidents (6%) being committed by strangers. In 78% of violent incidents against children, the offender was a pupil at the victim’s school and in 8% of incidents the offender was a friend (including boyfriend/girlfriend). The offender of violent incidents against children aged 10 to 15 was most likely to be male (89% of incidents) and aged between 10 and 15 (86%) (Nature of Crime Table 4.3 (132 Kb Excel sheet)).

Notes for profile of offenders involved in violent crimes

  1. Questions were asked if the victim was able to say something about the offender(s), which they could do in nearly all (98%) incidents. If there was more than one offender, victims were asked if any of the offenders were perceived to be under the influence. Questions were not asked if any offender was perceived to be under 10 years.
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16. Emotional impact

The CSEW also asks victims about the impact of the crime they had experienced (Nature of Crime Table 3.4). In 81% of violent incidents the respondent was ‘emotionally affected’, including 17% who were affected very much (Figure 1.9). The proportion of violent incidents where the victim was very much emotionally affected was lower than that of incidents of theft from a dwelling (21%) or theft of a vehicle (20%), but higher than other types of crime (for example, criminal damage, at 12%) (Nature of Crime Tables 6.4, 4.7 and 8.5, Focus on Property Crime, 2014 to 2015).

When this is broken down by type of injury, it can be seen that in incidents of wounding, 86% of victims were ‘emotionally affected’, compared with incidents of violence without injury (77%).

In terms of the severity of the emotional impact, wounding was, as expected, the type of violence where victims were most likely to report that they were very emotionally affected (33% of wounding incidents). Violence without injury was the crime type with the highest proportion of incidents where the victim stated that they were not emotionally affected at all (23%).

The most common forms of emotional reaction to violent crimes in the year ending March 2015 CSEW were anger (46%) and annoyance (45%)1. The emotional reaction was broadly similar across different types of injury (Nature of Crime Table 3.4 (393 Kb Excel sheet)).

Victims of violence were asked to rate the seriousness of each incident on a scale of 1 to 20, and the means of these seriousness scores are represented by the bars in Figure 1.102. As in previous years, wounding was considered to be a more serious violent crime (mean score 9.3) than assault with minor injury (mean score 5.8) and violence without injury (mean score 6.6). Looking in more detail at the seriousness scores in the year ending March 2015 (Nature of Crime Table 3.5 (393 Kb Excel sheet)), half of violence victims (55%) rated the incident in the least serious range (1 to 6), while 13% rated it in the most serious range (14 to 20).

Victims aged 10 to 15 were also asked about their perceptions of the incident they experienced. Based on the year ending March 2015 survey, 12% of violence victims aged 10 to 15 thought the incident was ‘a crime’, 39% perceived it to be ‘wrong, but not a crime’, and 49% thought it ‘was just something that happens’. In addition, 58% of incidents were perceived by the victim to be part of a series of bullying incidents. In comparison, 44% of theft victims aged 10 to 15 perceived the incident to be a crime. This reflects the fact that the measure of violence against children aged 10 to 15 includes a large proportion of low level incidents which may involve a crime in law (for example, one child deliberately pushing over another with the intention of hurting them) but which may not be viewed as serious enough to amount to an offence (see report on Experimental statistics on victimisation of children aged 10-15).

Notes for emotional impact

  1. Respondents can report more than one emotion.

  2. Respondents are asked to use this scale, with “1 being a very minor crime like theft of milk bottles from a doorstep, and 20 being the most serious crime of murder”.

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17. Use of weapons and injuries in CSEW violent crimes

According to the year ending March 2015 CSEW, a weapon was used in 18% of violent incidents (Nature of Crime Table 3.9 (393 Kb Excel sheet)). The use of a hitting implement (including sticks, clubs and other hitting implements) in violent incidents decreased from 6% in the year ending March 2014 to 2% in the year ending March 2015. The most commonly used weapon in the year ending March 2015 was a knife (used in 7% of violent incidents).

For more information on the use of weapons in violent incidents, please see the ‘Recorded offences involving the use of weapons’ chapter of this publication, which contains analysis of data collections on police recorded violent crime involving knives and firearms.

In the year ending March 2015 CSEW, victims sustained a physical injury in 52% of incidents of violence. This varied by type of violence, with 76% of incidents of domestic violence resulting in physical injury compared with 50% of acquaintance violence and 41% of stranger violence incidents. The most common type of injury in incidents of violence was minor bruising/black eye (33% of incidents). A lower proportion of incidents involved more serious injuries such as broken bones (4%), concussion or loss of consciousness (2%) or a broken nose (2%) (Nature of Crime Table 3.7 (393 Kb Excel sheet)).

A weapon was used in 16% of incidents against children aged 10 to 15 in the year ending March 2015 (Nature of Crime Table 4.7 (132 Kb Excel sheet))1.

The survey asks children about injuries sustained through violence. Based on the year ending March 2015 CSEW, 76% of victims aged 10 to 15 sustained an injury and 14% of victims received some form of medical attention as a result of the violent incident. Of those incidents where the victim aged 10 to 15 sustained an injury, minor bruising/black eye was the most common injury (65%), followed by marks on skin (21%) and scratches (17%). In 11% of violent incidents where the victim aged 10 to 15 sustained an injury, this was a serious injury2 (Nature of Crime Table 4.6 (132 Kb Excel sheet)).

Notes for use of weapons and injuries in CSEW violent crimes

  1. Figures are based on analysis of a small number of victims and should be interpreted with caution.

  2. Serious injury includes facial/head injuries, broken nose, concussion, broken bones.

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18. Findings from the 2014 Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS)

The 20141 CVS2 examined the extent of crime across 3 business sectors in England and Wales in the previous 12 months3, including, among other crimes, the extent of assaults and threats. Assaults and threats were the most common crime among accommodation and food service premises, with 260,000 incidents making up 46% of all incidents against this sector. Additionally, 12% of premises in this sector had experienced at least one such incident. Victims of this crime experienced a high level of repeat victimisation, with an average of 18 incidents in the 12 months prior to interview.

Among the wholesale and retail sector, 10% of crimes experienced were assaults or threats (410,000 incidents), with 11% of premises having experienced this crime in the previous 12 months.

A lower proportion of premises in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector had experienced assault or threats in the previous 12 months (3%), with an average of 4 incidents per victimised premises. Such crimes accounted for 11% of all crimes against this sector.

The proportion of incidents of assaults and threats reported to the police ranged from 35% in the wholesale and retail sector to 42% in the accommodation and food sector, although this compares with much higher reporting rates across all sectors for burglary with entry, ranging between 68% (agriculture, forestry and fishing sector) to 95% (wholesale and retail sector).

Notes for Findings from the 2014 Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS)

  1. Results from the 2015 CVS will be published in April 2016.

  2. Some of the offences covered in the CVS could also be picked up by the CSEW estimates and police recorded crime.

  3. The CVS is a telephone interview, for which the 2014 survey was based on 4,180 interviews with respondents at premises in the three industry sectors of wholesale and retail; accommodation and food; and agriculture, forestry and fishing. Nearly half of these interviews were with respondents from the wholesale and retail sector. Between them, these three sectors accounted for just under one-third of all business premises in England and Wales in 2014.

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19 .Background notes

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

    The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

    Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

    • meet identified user needs
    • are well explained and readily accessible
    • are produced according to sound methods
    • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest

    Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

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Contact details for this Compendium

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