This has become a familiar title for news stories relating to crime statistics. It appears that no matter what government is in power or which way the economy is going, crime just keeps falling.
There have been changes to the way incidents are recorded and this might affect the overall result slightly, however the reality is that crime has been on a downward spiral for some time.
Official figures on crime are published every quarter and are drawn from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and incidents reported to the police and recorded by them. CSEW is a survey that has been taking place since 1981. It is a huge survey of about 35,000 people that asks them about their personal experiences of violence, theft and other interpersonal crimes, irrespective of whether they reported them to police, or even whether they personally consider them to be criminal acts.
The national statistics watchdog said last year that it will no longer approve police recorded figures because they are unreliable.
The fall in crime numbers is not spread uniformly across the board. Generally, sexual offences, including rapes, have been going the other way and are now at a record high since comparable records began. Although, it could be argued that the coverage that such offences have received in the media since the ”Savile” scandal and the “Yewtree” operation has probably made survivors, particularly of historical sex crimes, more likely to come forward.
Another type of crime that has bucked the trend is fraud. Credit Card fraud is considerably higher than last year. This appears to be part of a shift in crime from visible crimes such as thefts and robberies to those that are more difficult to identify such as the above type of fraud and cyber crimes. This trend will surly continue as more and more transactions take place digitally.
There is clearly no one reason for the fall in crime, certainly not political changes to policing policy. Experts have researched various theories and are no nearer to understanding the overall reduction.
Working in the crime department of TV Edwards and discussing it with peers that have been working in the criminal justice system for a long time, one gains further perspective on the figures. It would appear police have become a lot more lenient and are using different remedies such as caution’s a lot more than they use to. It is however worth pointing out that the CSEW, as explained above, is only based on people’s experiences of crime rather than crimes reported or convictions. What the figures show is that the perception of the level of crime has changed in a positive way. In reality, postcode and circumstances of those interviewed are all such variable factors that bring the conclusions of the survey into question.