1. Summary

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (formerly British Crime Survey) asks people aged 16 and over living in households in England and Wales about their experiences of crime in the last 12 months. These experiences are used to estimate levels of crime in England and Wales. Until recently, the survey did not cover crimes against those aged under 16 years, but since January 2009 we have also interviewed children aged 10 to 15 years.

We also ask respondents to the survey about their attitudes to crime-related issues such as:

  • the police

  • the criminal justice system

  • their perceptions of crime and anti-social behaviour

The results of the survey play an important role in informing government policy.

The survey provides a better reflection of the extent of household and personal crime than police recorded statistics because the survey includes crimes that are not reported to, or recorded by, the police. The survey is also a better indicator of long-term trends because it is unaffected by changes in levels of reporting to the police or police recording practices.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales is carried out by Kantar Public (an independent research organisation) on behalf of ONS.

If you wish to know more about the survey, or to get a message to an interviewer who has already contacted you, please ring the Crime Survey Information Line at Kantar Public on freephone +44 (0)800 051 0882.

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2. What is the Crime Survey for England and Wales?

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) is a victimisation survey. It measures the amount of crime in England and Wales by asking people, such as yourself, about whether you or your household has experienced any crimes in the past year.

The CSEW provides a better reflection of the extent of crime than police recorded figures as the survey asks about crimes that are not reported to or recorded by the police.

The survey also asks for your opinion of different crime-related issues such as the police and criminal justice system and perceptions of crime and anti-social behaviour.

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3. Who is responsible for the survey?

Office for National Statistics (ONS) is responsible for the CSEW.

The results from the CSEW are designated as National Statistics. This means they are overseen by a strict code of practice drawn up by the independent National Statistician.

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4. Why have I been chosen to take part?

We cannot include everyone in the country in every survey as this would be too expensive and take too much of everyone’s time, so we select a sample to represent the country as a whole.

Your address has been randomly selected from the Royal Mail’s list of addresses in England and Wales. Once an address has been selected in this way we cannot replace it with another address.

Letters are sent out in advance to these sampled addresses with a leaflet to notify households that they have been selected and to give an overview of the survey.

Random sampling such as this ensures that all groups of people are properly represented and everyone has an equal chance of being able to help with our survey.

It is important that the survey represents everyone in the country so we need to talk to men and women of all ages and all backgrounds. In this way, the results from the CSEW reflect the experiences and attitudes of the whole population.

We are interested in everyone’s attitudes and concerns about crime, whether or not they have been a victim of crime.

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5. Who will interview me?

CSEW interviews are carried out for ONS by an independent research company called Kantar Public, an experienced survey organisation who carry out lots of government research. Find out more about Kantar Public and the work they do on the Kantar Public website.

An interviewer from Kantar Public will call at your address. The interviewer will carry a Market Research Society Interviewer identification card, which includes their photograph and interviewer identification number.

If you would like to check the identity of an interviewer, please call the Crime Survey Information Line on +44 (0)800 051 0882.

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6. A child in my home has also been asked to take part in the survey. Why is this?

Since January 2009, the CSEW has been extended to children aged 10 to 15 years to gain a more complete picture of crime in England and Wales. If a child in your household is selected to take part in the survey, the interviewer will outline what topics will be covered and seek the written consent of a parent or guardian.

We rely on the voluntary participation of children to build a more complete picture of the extent of crime experienced by the general population and also to find out what they think about issues such as the police and personal safety.

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7. Is the survey confidential?

Yes, UK legislation allows us to collect and process your data to produce statistics for the public good.

Your information will be treated as confidential as directed by the Code of Practice for Statistics. It will only be held for as long as it is being used for producing statistics. The statistics produced will not identify you or anyone in your household.

Survey information is also provided to other government departments, approved organisations and approved researchers for statistical purposes only. Details on who can access this information can be found on the approved organisations and government departments page and the approved researchers page. All statistics produced will be subject to the Code and the same standards of protection will be applied to your data at all times.

Information given to the interviewer is treated in the strictest confidence. Your name and address details are kept separate from your answers and will not be passed on to any other organisation or matched to your responses without your specific permission.

No individual will be identifiable from the results. You will not receive any “junk mail” as a result of taking part in this survey.

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8. Do I have to take part?

Our work is very important and we need your help to make our studies successful. Every year about half a million people help us by taking part in our studies. No-one has to take part if they do not want to, but for us to paint an accurate picture of our society, it is vital that we interview as many people as possible, from all walks of life.

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9. Who uses the research?

Information collected by the CSEW is used to help develop a range of policies aimed at reducing crime. It can be used to identify those most at risk of crime, which is useful in the design and targeting of crime prevention programmes.

Data from the CSEW provides an independent measure for police forces across England and Wales as well as helping the probation service and the courts to do their jobs as effectively as possible.

CSEW data are reported four times a year in the Crime in England and Wales: Quarterly first release publications and annually in the Crime in England and Wales publication.

More generally, CSEW data are used in briefings to ministers, in answer to parliamentary questions, in evidence to select committees and so on.

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10. Why surveys are done

Social surveys are a bridge between the people and the government. A good survey can provide accurate information about people’s experiences and situation, which can help to make sure that government policies and services take account of everyone’s needs.

The CSEW is a particularly important survey because it provides a more complete picture of crime than police recorded crime statistics alone. The CSEW includes crimes that are not reported to, or recorded by, the police and is therefore unaffected by changes in recording practices. For the crimes it covers, the CSEW is the best guide to long-term trends in crime.

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11. What is ONS’s responsibility to the public?

You can read about the commitments ONS makes to those taking part in its studies in our ONS Respondent charter for surveys of households and individuals.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales is carried out by Kantar Public (an independent research organisation) on behalf of ONS. To find out more about Kantar Public’s commitment while they are handling your information, please go to the Kantar Public website.

If you have a question about how ONS processes the information you provide after it is passed on to us, or want to find out more about your rights under data protection legislation, please see our data protection page for more information and the contact details you will need.

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12. More information

If you have been asked to take part in the CSEW and have any questions or concerns, please ring the Crime Survey Information Line at Kantar Public on freephone +44 (0)800 051 0882.

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