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Crimes of Violence: Statistics

Volume 507: debated on Wednesday 17 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the figure for police recorded violence would have been in (a) 1997-98 and (b) 1998-99 using current counting rules; and what methodology was used to establish these figures. (321889)

It is not possible to provide an adequate estimate the number of violent offences the police would have recorded in 1997-98 or 1998-99 based upon the current counting rules as the effect of changes made to these rules cannot be fully quantified over time.

Additionally, there was a major change to the counting rules in April 1998, where the way in which crime was counted changed and the coverage of offences increased. For example, the assault without injury was included for the first time—then termed common assault. Given that the change in 1998 was related to an extended offences coverage and a move to counting crimes on a per victim rather than per offence basis it was reasonable in these circumstances to assume that the change had a one off impact on trends

In April 2002, the National Crime Recording Standard was introduced. This brought in a more victim-focused reporting system, where victim accounts had to be accepted unless there was credible evidence to the contrary. This was proposed by ACPO to ensure better consistency in recording throughout England and Wales.

The Home Office published an online report entitled ‘National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS): an analysis of the impact on recorded crime’ in July 2003 which evaluated the impact of NCRS on recorded crime figures. The full report can be found here:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/rdsolr3103.pdf

The report estimates that the introduction of NCRS led to a 23 per cent. increase in recording of overall violence against the person offences in 2002-03.

However, the estimate of 23 per cent. relates to an estimated effect in the first year of operation of the NCRS. No similar estimate was made for subsequent years as changes continued to be bedded in. However, the Audit Commission undertook substantial audit work on crime recording in the years following NCRS introduction up until 2006-07, this indicating a generally increasing level of NCRS compliance across forces. Furthermore, it is known that some forces had taken steps to make their recording of crime more victim-oriented prior to the formal introduction of NCRS.

It was not possible to estimate the impact of the NCRS directly beyond the first year of its operation given the inherent difficulties that would arise in asking the police to consider how they would have previously recorded crime under the less well defined rules.

The British Crime Survey is the best guide to long term trends in crime as it has employed a consistent approach to the counting of crimes experienced by the population resident in households over time. Its count of crime is unaffected by changes in level of reporting of crime to the police, in police recording practice or police activity. The survey is one of the largest of its kind and incorporates the experiences of more than 46,000 households in England and Wales. It has one of the highest response rates of voluntary household surveys and is viewed of high quality by independent experts. The BCS records a 41 per cent. decline in violent crime between 1997 and 2008-09.

More information on the current counting rules can be found here:

http://www.countingrules.homeoffice.gov.uk/output/Page1.asp