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Crime Of The Century - A Chilling Look At Crime Statistics In The UK


The conclusions of this report are that most of the impact of the NCRS, certainly for the crimes measured in the government’s main crime targets – domestic burglary, vehicle thefts and robbery – was realised throughout 2002/03 with little evidence of any continuing impact. The picture will of course vary from force to force, and certain other crime types may still reveal further increases owing to changes in recording practices and reporting habits. However, on balance, the Home Office believed they should stop making the adjustments to the recorded crime figures to reflect the impact of the NCRS over the initial year and let the statistics stand as they are.


Variation in recording practices had made comparisons between police forces and, indeed, national estimates of the level of crime difficult to measure accurately. The Home Office has for some years sought to improve the consistency of police crime recording, in the first instance by making significant changes to the Home Office Counting Rules (see Povey and Prime, 1999). This report describes the latest attempt to bring about substantial improvements in this area: the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS).


All police forces in England and Wales adopted the NCRS in April 2002, although a few had moved in this direction a little earlier. The NCRS was developed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) with assistance from the Home Office following the investigations into crime recording variation by ACPO, the Home Office and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).


The NCRS aims: • To promote greater consistency between police forces in the recording of crime. • To take a more victim-oriented approach to crime recording.


The focus of the NCRS has been to harmonise police forces’ approaches to crime recording in order to improve confidence in the recorded crime statistics and to enable a more robust comparison of police performance to be undertaken. The implementation of a more victim- oriented approach to crime recording will also provide a better measure of the service demanded from the police, and aims to promote public confidence in the police service as a whole.


Prima facie versus evidential approach


Two models, or approaches, to crime recording seem to co-exist: • the primafacie model, where details of allegations are accepted without scrutiny, and the


• evidential model, where details require to be substantiated before a crime record is made.


For many police forces, the introduction of the NCRS required a move to a more prima facie approach to crime recording, that is recording based more on the victim’s perception of a


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