crime

Why you can't identify changes in crime by comparing this month to last month

This post first appeared on the Social Research Association blog. Understanding if some event is associated with a change in the frequency of crime is a common question, both in practice and in research. A crime analyst might need to understand the impact of a change in tactics, a local journalist might want to check the truth of the mayor’s claims that her policies are working, while an academic might seek to find patterns associated with trends in socio-economic changes.

Chart: 73% of victim-based crime is not reported to police

Of the 10.9 million crimes which individual adults aged 16 years and over experienced in the past year, only 27% were reported to the authorities. Reporting rates vary substantially, with more-serious crimes more likely to be reported. Fraud makes up almost half of victim-based crime but is particularly unlikely to be reported, dragging down the overall average. larger image | annotated R code to produce this chart Data source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2019

Chart: Homicides haven't only increased in Britain

The homicide-rate increase over the past five years hasn’t been unique to England and Wales, with murders also increasing in France, Germany and Sweden after continent-wide decreases since the 1990s. The UK-wide homicide rate remains about average for European countries. larger image | annotated R code to produce this chart Data source: Eurostat, 2019 database tables crim_off_cat and crim_gen with population data from table demo_pjan.

Chart: Seizures of the most harmful drugs at UK borders are falling

Border Force is responsible for seizing drugs at ports, airports and international parcels depots. However, reports by the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration suggest drug-detection efforts are hindered by understaffing, lack of training and focus on conducting passport checks on travellers. Most drug seizures are of small amounts: only 19% of seizures involve more than one kilogram of drugs. larger image | annotated R code to produce this chart

Chart: In five years, crime-related demands on police have almost doubled

One way to understand crime-related demands on police forces is to track ‘crime pressure’, a measure of investigative workload representing the number of crimes reported to a force per officer, weighted according to Office for National Statistics estimates of the relative severity of different crimes. In the past five years, this measure has risen in every police force in England and Wales, and has doubled in many places. larger image | annotated R code to produce this chart

Chart: Much of the homicide drop has already been erased

The rapid decrease in the homicide (murder, manslaughter and infanticide) rate in England and Wales between 2000 and 2014 was unprecedented over the previous century, but a third of that decrease has already been reversed. larger image | annotated R code to produce this chart Data sources: Homicide counts 1898 to 2001/02, Homicide counts 2001/02 onwards, Population estimates 1838 to 2018. Notes This chart uses police-recorded homicide offences because that time series extends further back in time than the Home Office Homicide Index, the main alternative source of homicide data.

Chart: Online crime now the most-likely threat to many businesses

Online crime (including hacking, phishing and virus attacks) is now experienced by more businesses than any other type across sectors as varied as manufacturing and communications. But in the sectors most-likely to experience a crime (retail, accomodation and entertainment), traditional offences such as theft are still more likely. The data come from the government’s Commercial Victimisation Survey, which each year asks about crime against selected business types. larger image | annotated R code to produce this chart

Chart: Drug use was falling, but that seems to be changing

Self-reported drug use has fallen for most of the past 20 years according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, but in the past seven years the use of cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy has increased substantially, particularly among people aged 16–24. However, drug use is still lower now than it was at the turn of the millenium, with about 10% of adults saying they’ve used an illegal drug in the past year.

Chart: Homicide methods are changing

Homicide (murder, manslaughter and infanticide) in England and Wales is rare, with about 12 homicides per million people last year, a similar rate to a decade ago. But homicide methods are changing: the rise in knife murders is well known, but there are other changes, too. larger image | annotated R code to produce this chart Data source: Office for National Statistics, 2019 The homicide counts here exclude victims of the Hillsborough disaster, who died in 1989 but were recorded as manslaughter cases in 2017, and victims of the Manchester Arena bombing in 2018.

Chart: Almost 7 million adults have been victims of partner abuse

Among the 42 million adults in England and Wales aged between 16 and 74, 1.3 million have been sexually assaulted by a current or former partner, 4.3 million subjected to non-sexual assault and 2.3 million have been stalked. In every category, at least twice as many women as men have been victimised. larger image | annotated R code to produce this chart Data source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2018