Police-recorded crime rises by highest rate in a decade, while victim surveys show a drop

 
Lucy White
Police recorded crime rises by highest rate ONS says
Despite the rising number of police recorded crimes, there were fewer offences reported by victims in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (Source: Getty)

The number of criminal offences recorded by the police in the UK over the last year has risen by ten per cent, the highest rate in a decade.

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the police recorded nearly five million offences in the year ending March 2017.

All forces except for Cumbria and North Yorkshire showed an annual increase in the volume of crime recorded, largely driven by hikes in violence against the person, theft, and public order offences.

“While ongoing improvements to recording practices are driving this volume rise, we believe actual increases in crime are also a factor in a number of categories,” said the ONS's John Flatley.

Despite the rising number of police recorded crimes, there were fewer offences reported by victims in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) which aims to capture incidents which went unrecorded.

The CSEW estimated there were 5.9m incidents of crime, a seven per cent reduction from last year's survey.

This continues the general downward trend in victim-reported crimes from the CSEW since they reached a peak in 1995.

However, the only significant decreases were in the sub-categories of "other theft of personal property", "other household theft" and "vehicle-related theft", which led to a drop in overall theft offences.

Including fraud and computer misuse offences, the number of incidents reported in the CSEW went up to 11m, but there is not yet comparable year-on-year data for fraud and computer misuse.

Read more: Official UK crime statistics show increase in fraud cases and computer misuse offences

The ONS believes that some of the disparity between police-recorded crime and that uncovered by the CSEW could be due to an ongoing programme of unannounced inspections of crime recording by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

One of the largest disparities between the two data sources was in theft, where police records showed a seven per cent increase but the CSEW showed a 10 per cent decrease.

Although the ONS noted that some of the step up in police-recorded thefts may be due to better reporting, it added that police statistics could be a better indicator of emerging trends than the CSEW.

"If the increases in burglary and vehicle theft recorded by the police continue we would expect these to show up in the survey in due course. We will continue to monitor these trends and investigate the factors driving any changes," said Flatley.

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