Crime statistics in the United Kingdom

Crime statistics in the United Kingdom refers to the data collected in the United Kingdom, and that collected by the individual areas, England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which operate separate judicial systems. It covers data related to crime in the United Kingdom. As with crime statistics elsewhere, they are broadly divided into victim studies and police reports.

Official police statistics on crime in the United Kingdom are not completely accurate due to widespread under-recording by police of reported crimes, known as "no criming".[1] In the aggregate an average of 19% of crimes reported to the police are not recorded, with one quarter of sexual crimes and one third of violent crimes not being recorded.[1] Further, this varies significantly by area: in the year to March 2011, 2% of reported rapes in Gloucestershire were recorded as "no crime", while 30% of reported rapes in Kent were so classified, making accurate comparison difficult.[2]

Crime surveys

The Crime Survey for England and Wales is an attempt to measure both the amount of crime, and the impact of crime on England and Wales. The original survey (carried out in 1982, to cover the 1981 year) covered all three judicial areas of the UK, and was therefore referred to as the British Crime Survey, but now it only covers England and Wales. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, similar surveys, namely the Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey and Northern Ireland Crime Survey have similar purposes. These surveys collect information about the victims of crime, the circumstances surrounding the crime, and the behaviour of the perpetrators. They are used to plan, and measure the results of, crime reduction or perception measures. In addition, they collect data about the perception of issues such as antisocial behaviour and the criminal justice system.[3]

Other crime surveys include the Commercial Victimisation Survey, which covers small and medium-sized businesses,[3] and the Offending, Crime and Justice Survey, with a particular focus on young people.[4]

No criming

No criming is the practice of writing off reported crimes as not constituting a crime – marking as "no crime". This is applied inconsistently across crimes and regions, frequently incorrectly,[1] and sometimes due to pressure from performance and other factors.[1] In the aggregate, in the period November 2012 – October 2013, an average of 19% of crimes reported to the police are not recorded, with one quarter of sexual crimes and one third of violent crimes not being recorded, with rape being particularly bad at 37% no-criming.[1][5] Reporting is inconsistent across local forces: "In a few forces, crime-recording is very good, and shows that it can be done well and the statistics can be trusted. In some other forces, it is unacceptably bad." The failure to properly record crime has been called "inexcusably poor" and "indefensible" by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor. Twenty percent of reviewed decisions to cancel a report were found to be incorrect, and in about a quarter of cases there was no record of victims being informed that their report had been canceled.[1]

Senior members of the policing establishment admit to long-term, widespread "fiddling" of figures, such as John Stevens, Baron Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, former head of the Metropolitan Police Service:[6]

Ever since I’ve been in police service there has been a fiddling of figures. I remember being a detective constable where we used to write off crimes.

Evidence has also been submitted to the Public Administration Select Committee by then-constable James Patrick.[7]

England and Wales

English criminal law details a series of criminal acts, and when these should apply. English courts apply criminal statutes and common law as part of their responsibility for applying justice and dealing with the culprits.

According to the Home Office, there were around 880,000 "Violence against the person" crimes in England and Wales in 20089, equivalent to 16 per thousand people in England and Wales. There were about 50,000 sexual offences during the same period, just under 1 per thousand. Other areas of crime included robbery (80,000; equivalent to around 1.5 crimes/per thousand), burglary (285,000; 5 per thousand) and vehicle theft (150,000; 3 per thousand). Based on the Government's preferred comparison system, this marked a 7% decline in crime on the year before. On this system, the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (called "Community Safety Partnerships" in Wales) with the highest number of crimes per capita was the City of London; however, this is based on resident population, which is considerably augmented by workers and tourists. The lowest rate was in Norfolk.[8] These figures were created by combining police recorded crime and the British Crime Survey.[9]

The strength of the police force, as of 2008, in England and Wales was around 140,000 of whom 32,000 are women. 10,000 children above the age of criminal responsibility, 10, and beneath majority, 18, were found guilty of indictable offenses in 2009. and a further 75,000 cautioned. England and Wales has a prison population of over 80,000 (2007 estimate), equivalent to 149 people per 100,000. This is considerably less than the USA (762) but more than the Republic of Ireland (76). and a little more than the EU average (123). Around £2 billion is spent on the prison service of England and Wales each year.[10]


Scots criminal law is separate to English criminal law, including the use of a not proven verdict at criminal trials in the Courts of Scotland. The list of offences is also different from England and Wales, and Northern Ireland.

In 20078, there were 114 homicide victims in Scotland,[11] a slight decrease on the previous year. In the third quarter of 2009, there were a little over 17,000 full time equivalent serving police officers. There were around 375,000 crimes in 20089, a fall of 2% on the previous year. These included around 12,500 non-sexual violent acts, 168,000 crimes of dishonesty (housebreaking, theft and shoplifting are included in this category) and 110,000 acts of fire-raising and vandalism. In the 20089 period, there was a prison population in Scotland of about 7,300,[11] equating to 142 people per 100,000 population, very similar to England and Wales. Spending on Scotland's prisons was around £350 million in 20078.[10]

Northern Ireland

Between April 2008 and 2009, there were just over 110,000 crimes recorded by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, an increase of 1.5% on the previous year.[12] Northern Ireland has around 7,500 serving full-time equivalent police positions, and a prison population of 1,500, 83 per 100,000 of the population, lower than the rest of the UK.[10]

External links


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Victims let down by poor crime-recording
  2. Rape crime figure differences revealed
  3. 1 2 "British Crime Survey and other surveys". Research Development Statistics. The Home Office. 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  4. "Offending, Crime and justice Survey". Research Development Statistics. The Home Office. 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  5. Crime Recording: Making the Victim Count
  6. "Lord Stevens admits police have been 'fiddling' crime figures for years". The Telegraph.
  7. Written evidence from James Patrick, September 2013
  8. UK Home Office (2009). "CDRP areas: Recorded crime for seven key offences and BCS comparator 2007/08 to 2008/09". Retrieved 23 January 2010.
  9. "Crime in England and Wales 2008/2009". Research Development Statistics. The Home Office. 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  10. 1 2 3 "Annual Abstract of Statistics". National Office of Statistics. 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2009.
  11. 1 2 The Scottish Government (December 1, 2009). "High Level Summary of Statistics data for Crime and Justice trends". Retrieved 23 January 2009.
  12. "The PSNI's Statistical Report" (PDF). Police Service of Northern Ireland. 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
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