Crime Rates in the UK: Changes Over Time

23 Mar 2015 11 Dec 2017

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Crime has devastating consequences to the economic and social dimensions of any country. Unfortunately despite increased efforts to fight crime halting it seems to be impossible. Slack (2009) points out that official crime figures indicate that the country has the worst rate essentially for all types, or categories of violent crimes when compared to the United States and other countries that appear on the list of the most dangerous countries in the world. Hicks and Allen (1999, 5) indicate that the figure of homicides which include offences of manslaughter, murder and infanticide have doubled since 1960's however, the state that recorded crime fell considerably in the 1990's. They assert that the rising trend of crime that was reported began in 1954 seemingly declining starting 1992 when reported crime peaked. Nonetheless the British Survey reports show the 1990's estimates of unreported crime as standing at fifty six percent and thus making it unclear whether there was indeed a decline in the 1990's.

Additionally the rate of crime might have not reduced since statistics show that the average prison population has been increasing since 1940's to approximately sixty five thousand in 1998. Nonetheless the police insist that the crime rates have been declining over the years starting that they did peak in 1995 but have steadily reduced since especially due to government efforts. Home office (2008) statistics also indicate crime rates peaked in 1995 but have since dropped by 42 percent. In 2009 police reports show that crime decreased by five percent when compared to 2007/2008 rates while BCS reports show no significant change in the rates. NIMS (2008) are however of the idea that the overall crime rates have been decreasing over the past few years although some years have experienced slight increases in the rates. In general from the reports it can be concluded that on average the rates of crime have slightly decreased.

2. On the most recent figures, what percentage of all crimes recorded by the police do the following constitute: Murder? Rape? Theft? Car theft?

2008/09 provisional data by the police show 648 occurrences of homicide. This is the lowest recorded figure in the last twenty years. Attempted murders, whose figure stood at 621 in 2007/2008 decreased by approximately forty six incidences or seven percent in 2008/2009. While there was a decline in the homicide offences that involved sharp instruments by approximately 18 incidents, attempted murders that involved knifes rose from approximately 245 to 271 incidents. Generally, of all crimes that the police recorded in the period 2008/09 murder accounted for less than two percent of them. Police records also show that while sexual offences recorded a 4 percent drop women rape increased by 12,000 cases which translates to five percent. Additionally car theft accounted for thirteen percent of all the crimes committed in 2008/09(Home Office 2009, 16).

3. On the most recent British Crime Survey figures, what is the most commonly experienced form of crime?

According to Home Office (2009, 16), British Crime Survey statistics present property crime as the most common misdemeanor experienced by individuals. Property crime accounts for nearly eighty percent of the crimes that were recorded by BCS. Nevertheless this current figure is still lower since the high or peak point in 1995.

4. What is meant by `clear-up rates?

Tarling (2008,148) explains that while crime rate refers to the total figure of crimes that the police recorded per 100,000 people, clear up rate is described as the percentage of crime recorded that is solved or detected by the police. Home Office (2009, 131) clarify that the clear up rates may not be definitive indicators or measures of the police investigative performance and thus need to be evaluated or interpreted with care.

5. Give examples of variations in clear up rates between crime categories. What reasons might be given for these variations?

According to Home Office (2009, 131) just like in the previous years there was a variation in the clear up rates for the distinct crime types in 2008/09. For instance there was a 95% clear up rate for drug offences but 11% for vehicle offences. Additionally while the clear up rates for burglary stood at thirteen percent, criminal damage rates stood at 14%, robbery at 21%, fraud and offences at 28%, sexual offences 31% and violence against persons 47%.

One of the main reasons that have been given for these differences is the nature of crime. For instance drug offences which record the highest rate are easy to clear since they are relatively straightforward to handle; to deal with an offender in possession of such substances a warning may simply be issued to the delinquent. However the rates are much lower in offences against vehicles or burglary since the offences typically come to light much later or days after they have been committed and the offenders have disappeared from the crime scene. Crime mix and the methods that are put into use by the police to detect the various offences can also lead to a variation in the clear up rates.

6. What is the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) and why is it important?

The NCRS provides general rules and regulations for recording offenses and has been approved and adopted by police forces since 2002 in England and Wales. It requires that all incidents reports whether from witnesses, third parties or victims and whether crime linked or not need result in an incident report registration.

The NCRS represents the government attempt to overcome crime recording variations and provide accuracy and consistency in data entry between police divisions and forces. It is also important since it is meant to provide reliable data that is used to measure and compare police divisions and forces performance creating room for improvements (Hallam 2009, 38-41). NCRS also allows a crime recording approach that is victim oriented allowing the forces to fairly serve the populace.

7. Which groups in the population are most at risk of becoming victims of violent crime?

The general characteristics of adults that are susceptible or are most at risk of being violent crimes victims has not changed over the years. Essentially the overall risk of one becoming a violent crime victim in the period within 2008/09 was reported as being approximately 3%. Reports also indicate that males were twice as likely as women to become victims of violent crimes. According to the BCS survey the figure for men that had fallen victim to such crimes a year before the analysis stood at about 4 percent compared to 2% for women. Therefore the risk is highest for men than women. In addition risk of facing violent crimes for men decreased as their ages increased. Risk levels were found to be less than 1% for men that were sixty five years and older while those aged between sixteen and twenty four had a risk calculated at 13%. Similar trends were observed in females although the risk rates differed, with those between sixteen and twenty four facing a risk of about 5%. The unemployed people risk of becoming victims to such crime stood at 7.6 percent while that of the employed people was recorded at approximately 3%. Unmarried males and females (7.6 percent), students (8.6 percent) and individuals with mixed ethnicity (7 percent) also showed a higher than average risk of becoming violent crimes victims (Home Office 2009, 47).

8. In terms of age and gender, which groups in the population are most likely to be known as offenders?

Offenders are likely to be young and male in terms of gender. In half of the reported violent crimes the offenders were believed or found to be between sixteen and twenty four years of age. Additionally from eighty percent of the incidents male offenders were found to be the main culprits as compared to fourteen percent for their female counterparts. The probability of males committing crime was in fact higher for all crimes. As age increased it became less likely that individuals would commit an offense. While individuals between 16 and 24 had a 55% chance, those between 25 and 39 had a thirty percent chance while those that were forty years and older had a 13 percent chance of committing crime (Home Office 2009, 70).

9. Compared with other countries, is the crime rate in England & Wales high, low, or average?

Reports by the United Nations and the European Union indicate that the UK has been ranked second based in terms of overall crime rates in the EU, with higher percentages of homicides than those in Italy, German, Spain and France(Slack 2009). Furthermore the UK is fourth in burglary rates and fifth in robbery rates when compared to most of the western European countries. The UK basically records the highest absolute burglary figure in the EU actually with double the total number of offenses that are recorded in France and Germany. Moreover Britain has been named as the most violent nation in the EU. According to Slack (2009) there are 2034 offenses occurring in every 100, 000 people in the UK, Austria's figures stands at 1677, US 466, South Africa 1609 and Canada 935. The crime rate is therefore generally high when compared with the other countries (Slack 2009).

10. In comparison with other jurisdictions, is the use of imprisonment in England & Wales low, high or average?

The proportion or percentage of the population that is imprisoned in any country varies with the conviction rates, crime rates, prison sentences length and tendency to issue prison sentences as opposed to community service or fines. Despite the declining crime rates in the UK imprisonment rates have steadily increased leading to overcrowding in prison facilities. When compared to Japan, Australia, Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Austria, France, Spain and Canada the use of imprisonment in the UK is high (US BJS, 2005). Nonetheless when the compared to the United States, Singapore and Portugal, England and Wales use of imprisonment is average. According to BBC (2005) in every population of 100,000, 726 were in prison in the US, 142 in the UK and 58 in Japan in the year 2005.

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