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Source: Kai Pilger

While the latest set of Official Crime Statistics covering England and Wales come with what should, by now, be the familiar methodological qualifications concerning both their reliability – or, more pertinently perhaps, their unreliability – and validity, they are nevertheless useful as general indicators of crime patterns.

As such, they’re worth perusing if you have the time.

And if you don’t, there are always the edited lowlights…

The lowlights

6.3m crimes were recorded in the year to March 2022 – an all-time high for recorded crime and 4% higher than the previous high: 6.1m offences recorded in 2020.

Although there was a 16% increase in crime year-on-year, this figure needs to be seen in the context of the depressed recorded rates in 2021 due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

As is increasingly becoming the case there are wide fluctuations in the prevalence of different types of crime. This includes a:

  • 37% increase in online fraud and computer misuse offences.
  • 20% decrease in theft.
  • 25% increase in homicide (something that includes offences like murder and manslaughter). Compared to March 2020, however, there has been almost no change (710 offences in 2022 as opposed to 714 in 2020). The latter did, however, include the exceptional case of 39 migrants found dead inside a lorry.
  • 10% increase in knife-enabled crime. Compared to March 2020, however, knife-enabled crimes were slightly lower.
  • 32% increase in sexual offences (including 70,000 rapes).
  • This may or may not reflect a real increase in sexual offences because these statistics are impacted by campaigns focused on encouraging victims to report incidents that would, in the past, have gone unreported.

    Clear-up rates

    In England and Wales a crime is considered to be “cleared” (i.e. the police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the offence) once a suspect is charged or summonsed – not when a suspect is found guilty. In 2022:

  • 5.6% of reported offences were cleared-up, a new historic low and down from 7.1% in 2021 and 16% in 2015.
  • 1.3% of reported rapes resulted in someone being charged.
  • Nearly half (42%) of rape victims “gave up and withdrew support for seeking justice through the criminal justice system” before anyone was convicted.

    Crime Survey

    While the generally more-accurate Crime Survey of England and Wales (formerly the British Crime Survey) showed a decline in crime over the past 20 years, “offences recorded by police showed various serious offending hitting 20-year highs”. These included:

  • 70,000 rapes.
  • 200,000 sexual offences.
  • 700,000 stalking and harassment offences.
  • 900,000 domestic abuse-related offences
  • 2 million violence against the person offences.
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