Key points

Note that all the statistics below are from the British Crime Survey and the trends shown are rather different than those from crimes recorded by the police.  In correspondence with the then Shadow Home Secretary, Sir Michael Scholar, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority stated that police-recorded statistics between the late 1990s and now are likely to “mislead the public” due to changes in recording practices in 2002/03.  By contrast, the British Crime Survey is not affected by such changes in practice.

Burglary

  • There were around an estimated 750,000 burglaries in 2010/11.  This is similar to the level of five years previously but much less than the level of a decade ago.
  • Young households, lone parents and the unemployed are all more than twice as likely to be burgled as the average household.
  • The burglary rate in Yorkshire & the Humber and in London is twice as high as that in Wales and the South of England (excluding London).

Violent crime

  • There were around an estimated 1.2 million violent incidents which resulted in injury in 2010/11.  This is similar to the level of five years previously but much less than the level of a decade ago.
  • Young households and the unemployed are both more than twice as likely to be the victims of violence as the average person.  Lone parents and private renters are also at high risk.
  • There is a reasonably similar incidence of violence crimes in all regions.

Worries about crime

  • The proportion of adults who are very worried about being the victim of crime is much lower than a decade ago: for burglary, 10% compared with 19% a decade ago; for violent crime, 13% compared with 24% a decade ago.
  • This fall in the level of worry about crime is in line with the fall in the estimated prevalence of crime.
  • Adults on low incomes, in bad health, living in inner city areas and social renting are all more likely to be very worried about being a victim of crime than adults on average.

Perceptions about crime

  • Throughout the last decade, many more adults think that their local crime rate has been increasing than think that it has been decreasing.  For example, in 2010, 30% thought it had been increasing compared to 15% who thought it had been decreasing.
  • So, what people generally perceive the trends in crime as being (i.e. rising) is very different than the actual trends in crime (i.e. falling) as well as their worries about being a victim of crime (also falling).

Why this indicator was originally chosen

Crime is the most commonly reported problem in people’s neighbourhoods. In addition to the risk of crime being greater in certain types of area, some individuals and households are especially vulnerable to attack.

Two of the types of crime that people worry most about are burglary and violent crime.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the number of burglaries and violent incidents with injury in each year shown.

The second graph shows how the risk of burglary and violent incidents varies for selected groups, chosen on the basis that they are at high risk.  To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for the latest three years.  Note that burglary is a crime against a household so the figures are presented as a proportion of households whereas violent crime is a crime against the individual so the figures are presented as a proportion of adults.  This difference also restricts the number of groups for which data on both burglaries and violent crime exists.  Finally, note that the ‘unemployed’ status for burglaries is where the household reference person is unemployed.

The third graph shows how the risks of burglary and violence varies by region.  Note that the statistics are slightly different than those in the second graph because they relate to the prevalence of the crime whereas those in the second graph relate to the prevalence of the victims.  In other words, incidents which affect multiple people or people who are the victims of multiple incidents are treated differently in the two sets of statistics.  To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for the latest three years, except for the statistics on violence by age of the head of the household where the data is only available for the year 2008/09.

The fourth graph shows how the proportion of adults who say they are very worried about being burgled or about being a victim of violent crime has changed over time.  For burglary, this proportion is simply the proportion of respondents who said that they were very worried about having their home broken into and something stolen.  For violent crime, the measure is based on a scale constructed from questions on worry about mugging, rape, physical attack by a stranger and racially motivated assault.  For each of these four questions, a scale is used whereby ‘very worried’=2, ‘fairly worried’=1, ‘not very worried’=0 and ‘not at all worried’=0.  The result of combining these questions is then a number between 0 and 8.  A score of 4 or more is then entitled ‘very worried’ and a score of less than 4 is entitled ‘not very worried’.  Respondents who did not answer all four of the questions are excluded from the analysis.

The fifth graph shows how the proportion of adults who say they are very worried about being burgled or about being a victim of violent crime varies for selected types of respondent.  To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for latest three years.

The sixth graph shows, for each year shown, the proportion of adults who believe that the local crime rate has increased/decreased over the previous two years.

The data source for all the graphs is the British Crime Survey (BCS), with the data in all the graphs bar the fifth being obtained via the annual Crime in England and Wales report published by the Home Office rather than the dataset itself.  The data is for England and Wales (BCS only covers England and Wales).

In the period up to the year 2000, the BCS survey was undertaken every two years, in the even-numbered years.  Whereas the views that people expressed applied to those years (e.g. in the fourth graph), the crimes that they report refer to the previous odd-numbered year (e.g. in the first graph).  From 2001/02, BCS became an annual survey with the data on both views and crimes relating to the year of each survey.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: high.  BCS is a well-established government survey, which is designed to be nationally representative.

External links

Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

Overall aim:  Make communities safer

Lead department

Home Office.

Official national targets

None.

Other indicators of progress

Level of most serious violent crimes.

Level of serious acquisitive crimes.

Public confidence in local agencies involved in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour.

Percentage of people perceiving anti-social behaviour as a problem.

Level of proven re-offending by young and adult offenders.

Level of serious re-offending.

Previous 2004 targets

Reduce crime by 15% and further in high crime areas by 2007/08.

Reassure the public, reducing the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour, and building confidence in the Criminal Justice System without compromising fairness.

Tackle social exclusion and deliver neighbourhood renewal, working with department to help them meet their PSA floor Official national targets, in particular narrowing the gap in health, education, crime, worklessness, housing and liveability outcomes between the most deprived areas and the rest of England, with measurable improvement by 2010.

The numbers

Graph 1

Year Millions of burglaries Millions of violent incidents with injury
1981 0.8M 1.2M
1983 0.9M
1987 1.2M
1991 1.4M 1.4M
1993 1.8M
1995 1.8M 2.4M
1997 1.6M 2.2M
1999 1.3M 1.8M
2001/02 1.0M 1.5M
2002/03 1.0M 1.4M
2003/04 0.9M 1.4M
2004/05 0.7M 1.3M
2005/06 0.7M 1.2M
2006/070.7M 1.3M
2007/080.7M 1.1M
2008/090.7M 1.1M
2009/100.7M 1.1M
2010/110.7M 1.2M

Graph 2

Group Proportion of households burgled Proportion of adults who are victims of violent crime
Average 2% 3%
In an area with a high level of physical disorder5% 5%
Lone parents 6% 6%
Private renters 3% 6%
Social renters 4% 4%
Unemployed 5% 8%
Young head of household
(age 16 to 24)
7% 8%

Graph 3

Region Burglaries in a 12 month period per 100 households Violent crimes in a 12 month period per 100 adults
East 2 5
East Midlands 3 5
London 4 4
North East 3 5
North West 3 5
South East 2 5
South West 2 6
Wales 2 4
West Midlands 3 5
Yorkshire and The Humber 4 5

Graph 4

Year Very worried about being burgledVery worried about being the victim of violent crime
1998 19% 25%
200019% 24%
2001/02 15% 22%
2002/03 15% 21%
2003/04 13% 16%
2004/05 12% 16%
2005/06 13% 17%
2006/0713% 17%
2007/0812% 15%
2008/0911% 14%
2009/1010% 13%
2010/1110% 13%

Graph 5

Group Very worried about being burgledVery worried about being the victim of violent crime
Average 11% 14%
Low-income households (less than £10,000 pa) 16% 19%
Social renters 18% 21%
Inner city 17% 22%
Bad health 19% 19%

Graph 6

Year Believe increasing Believe decreasing
1996 55% 10%
1998 46% 17%
2001 50% 14%
2001/02 51% 10%
2002/03 53% 9%
2003/04 49% 10%
2004/05 43% 12%
2005/06 42% 12%
2006/0742% 12%
2007/0839% 12%
2008/0936% 14%
2009/1031% 15%
2010/1128% 16%