Recent statistics recorded by the British Crime Survey and police statistics in England and Wales have revealed a reduction in crime levels in 2010 as compared to previous years. According to police statistics, the number of crimes has decreased by 6%. The British Crime Survey similarly reports a decrease over that period, although of a lesser 3%.
The British Crime Survey statistics come from surveys of thousands of people. The police statistics come from police reports across England and Wales.
In quantitative terms, the BCS's reported decrease of 3% equates to a fall in crimes from 9.8 million in 2009 to 9.5 million in 2010. Whilst the numbers sound unsettlingly high, given that the statistics have come from a year that was characterised by rising unemployment and other effects of the recession and budget cuts, the figures provide at least some comfort of a trend in decreasing crime rates in the UK.
However, the statistics are not all positive. The report separated statistics for different types of crimes. Over the same period, and against decreasing crime rates overall, the incidences of sexual offences rose by 3%, according to the police figures. For the most serious sexual crimes, the increase was 6%. However, this was offset in part by a 9% decrease in other sexual offences.
This is the sixth consecutive quarterly rise in sexual offences, says the Home Office. The Home Office indicated the increase could be due to improved reporting practices of such incidents by police. However, it is a well known fact that significant numbers of sexual assaults remain unreported, indicating that the true figures are in fact much higher.
An interesting figure of the studies - the risk of being a victim of crime - was 21.4% in 2010, which is largely unchanged from the previous year, according to the BCS. This, according to Chief constable Jon Murphy, the head of crime for the Association of Chief Police Officers, shows that "the risk of being a victim of crime remains at a 30-year low." The overall number of violent crimes resulting in injury was down 9% according to the police report statistics, and down 2% according to the BCS statistics.
Nick Herbert, the policing and criminal justice minister, has said that the government has commissioned an independent review of crime statistics, the Guardian reports.
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