The latest crime statistics published earlier in the month show a 7% fall in crime in England & Wales over the past year which is great news for the general public and great to improve the overall well-being of the Nation. A good result but what does that actually mean to us the general public, well I’m going to drill down into the stats and give you a brief overview here.
The Home Office and then the Office of National Statistics have been carrying out the Crime Survey for England & Wales (CSEW) since 1981 looking at trends and levels in crime in terms of incidents reported in their survey as well as actual police recorded incidents. The results are intended to give guidance on future policy and are compiled from a sample of 35,000 households.
18 months ago it was decided that the police recorded crime data included in the report didn’t meet the strict criteria to be considered a national statistic but the data was kept as part of the quarterly report and probably gives the most accurate picture of what is actually happening in terms of crime, how people perceive it and how or indeed if it is reported to the police.
What’s going down?
- There were 6.8 million incidents of crime in the last 12 months, a 7% drop from last year.
- This is the lowest since the survey began in 1981.
- The drop was mainly driven by the reduction in the theft offences sub-categories – theft from a person (down 21%) and theft of personal property (down 22%).
What’s on the up?
- Police recorded incidents went up by 3% to 3.8 million offences.
- Violence against person offences rose by 23%, though this is thought to be overemphasized by a change in how this category is now reported.
- Knife and sharp instrument offences increased a little overall by 2% but this masked a more serious rise in attacks of over 1500 assaults. Weapon offences were also up by 10% but the 14% fall in robberies counteracted these figures overall.
- Sexual offences reported to the police rose by a massive 37% which is the highest level since they started to be recorded in 2002 though this is thought to be a change in victim’s willingness to report it rather than an actual increase in attacks.
- Fraud was on the up particularly the category including on-line shopping fraud by a massive 15% which is in line with other sources showing such a great increase.
The results on the whole look fairly positive and the increases in certain categories of crimes are not really that surprising when you compare them to what you hear on the news each evening.
Where sexual offences actually reported have experienced a massive rise of 37% the CSEW finding found that an actual increase in offences occurring hadn’t taken place. This can probably be attributed to victim’s willingness to now report an offence and probably has been impacted by the “Savile effect”.
Unsurprisingly fraud is on the rise with 4 in every 1000 person reporting an incidence to the Police or other relevant anti-fraud body. According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the UK experienced online sales of 37 billion pounds sterling in 2014 so the growth in crimes such as credit card fraud is inevitable as offenders find new ways to beat the system. The perpetrators are not the career criminals of days gone by known by the local police but a new breed of faceless offenders that are increasingly hard to find and convict as they can be based anywhere in the world.
So what do the latest figures say about the effectiveness of CCTV?
Well I started working in the UK CCTV industry exactly 20 years ago just as CCD camera technology developed to become a viable option as a security system for mainstream businesses so I’m pleased to see that since crime peaked in 1995 it has steadily declined to an all-time low since this report first started back in 1981.
If we take a closer look at where CCTV cameras are most likely in operation, I think we can easily attribute some of these positive results to CCTV usage serving as a deterrent.
- Criminal damage and arson offences recorded have halved in the last 10 years.
- Domestic burglary down by 67% in last 20 years
- Police recorded robbery down 45% since 2004
- Public order offences down 17% in last 20 years
On the downside however and beyond the remit of a CCTV system, it looks as though crime has underground in the form on on-line fraud.