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Ten things you (probably) don't know about crime

Russell Webster investigates the latest crime figures

Every quarter the Office for National Statistics publishes the crime figures for England and Wales.

The latest edition was published on January 24 and I thought I would take the opportunity to dig into the statistics and shares some key facts.

I’m guessing that regular readers will be aware of many of these, but I’m pretty confident that some of them will be unexpected.

  1. Crime was at its highest in 1995 when it was estimated that there were nearly 20 million offences (excluding fraud and computer misuse); the actual figure was 19,786,000.
  2. By way of comparison the equivalent figure for the year ending September 2018 (the most recent time period for which statistics are available) was 6,244,000.
  3. It’s quite unusual for people to be a victim of crime. The latest estimates from the Crime Survey for England and Wales show that just two in ten adults experienced crime in the in the 12 months prior to completing the survey. Although there was a 6.3 per cent chance of being the victim of fraud, there was only a 2.2 per cent of being burgled at home and a one in 300 chance of being the victim of a robbery.
  4. Although the number of homicides in this country is very low compared to many others – there were 739 homicides in England and Wales last year – the figure has been increasing since 2014 when there were just 533 homicides.
  5. Car theft decreased massively between 2003 and 2015 when it fell from over one million offences to just 349,000. However, since 2015 it has been increasing steadily again, in part as thieves have modernised and developed ways of out-foxing electronic security measures, in the year to last September there were 457,433 car thefts, a 45 per cent jump over just three years.
  6. Readers will be aware of the increased concern around knife crime, particularly in the London area. This is borne out by the latest figures which shows that there were more than 40,000 recorded offences involving knives or sharp instruments in the last year compared to just 24,500 in 2015.
  7. Conversely, despite all the concern about increased gang membership the number of firearms offences has actually gone down over the last 15 years from 10,338 in 2004 to 6,424 in the last year.
  8. It seems that we are beginning to get to grips with online crime. Although the latest Crime Survey figures estimate that there were over one million computer misuse offences last year, this is actually 33 per cent  down on the year ending September 2017.
  9. Last year also saw the first reduction in shoplifting offences since March 2013. I was surprised to see that there were still 378,656 offences last year (down one per cent  on the year before) as I had thought that our growing predilection for shopping online will have dented these figures more considerably.
  10. And finally, we continue to prosecute people for all sorts of offences in this country. Did you know that in 2017, 16,406 people were prosecuted for not ensuring their children attended school? 500 people were punished by a community order and 110 people were given a sentence of imprisonment (although this was suspended in 100 cases).