'We don't know very much at all' about crime trends

Monday, 28 April, 2014

Last week our director Richard Garside argued that 'data on different crime types is not what it's cracked up to be and most of the current explanations for observed crime trends are variously unevidenced and unconvincing.'

Writing in today's Times (subscription required), Melanie Phillip agrees. She argues that all the main measures of crime trends obscure more than they enlighten. Police recorded crime data 'are widely viewed as unreliable... The reported increase in violent crime may be due to changes in police recording methods made in response to such criticism'.

As for the Crime Survey for England and Wales:

'the Crime Survey, based on accounts from about 38,000 people, cannot give the full picture, as it excludes certain groups and is dependent on respondents' memory and frankness. All we can really say we know about the crime rate is that we don't know very much at all.

'Yet there is no shortage of people claiming to be able to explain this'.