Headlines: June 26th, 2007



An independent think tank is claiming today that the public is being misled about the true level of crime. A report from Civitas says the British Crime Survey omits three million crimes. “Crime in England and Wales: More Violence and More Chronic Victims”, has been written by Graham Farrell, professor of criminology at Loughborough University, and Ken Pease, a former acting head of the Police Research Group at the Home Office. They say that since it began in 1981, the Survey has omitted many crimes committed against people who have been repeat victims.

The authors say that if someone is victimised in the same way by the same perpetrators more than five times in a year, the number of crimes is registered as five. The justification for this, they say, was ‘to avoid extreme cases distorting the rates’, but they point out that if someone has suffered ten incidents capping the series at five is what distorts the rate. They have recalculated the figures without the arbitrary cap and have revealed more than three million crimes that have not been counted in the BCS.

The survey, in its most recent published sweep, estimated an annual total of 6.8 million ‘household’ crimes and 4.1 million ‘personal’ crimes, the re-analysis shows that if respondents are to be believed there would be 7.8 million household offences and 6.3 million personal crimes. Today’s report says, too, that the increase in the number of offences is not evenly spread across all types of crime. Theft of vehicles, for example, has not increased at all, while cases of vandalism are almost a quarter more than reported and there are 20 per cent more burglaries.

Farrell and Pease also claim that ‘crime control, police training and criminal justice action are now substantially misdirected’. They say police attention has been diverted from protection of some of the most vulnerable people in society. Separate incidents might be dismissed as trivial but if each is an episode in a long-running feud or vendetta the consequences have sometimes been fatal, they say.