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


crime occurring rather than the police satisfying themselves that a crime had indeed taken place. Although a shift towards prima facie crime recording had been occurring in an ad hoc way in a number of forces prior to the universal adoption of the NCRS, the Standard served to formalise this process nationally. In doing so, it was not intended that police forces should trawl for all potential criminal activity that occurs and thereby record this as crime, but rather focus on the demands being placed upon the service by victims and to ensure these are recorded in a consistent manner.


A number of practical examples of how the NCRS might have changed the police recording of incidents reported to them, are given below.


• A victim reports that, in an argument with someone else, they were pushed, although they have not been injured. This will result in the police recording a violent crime on the evidence of the victim. This may not have been recorded as such in the past.


• Police are called to a scene of domestic violence. The victim confirms that a common assault has taken place but does not wish to take the matter further. If there is no credible evidence to the contrary this will be recorded, whereas in some forces it may not have been in the past.


• A householder reports a window broken as criminal damage. Again, if there is no credible evidence to the contrary this will be recorded, whereas previously the lack of evidence may have led some forces to assume that the damage alone was not evidence of criminal intent.


• A person contacts the police to say that their credit card has been used fraudulently. In the past, if there was no other evidence to support this, this may not have been recorded. It would be recorded under the new system (unless credible evidence to the contrary was uncovered).


It was anticipated that such a move would result in more crimes being recorded than would have been the case had the NCRS not been introduced. The Home Office therefore estimated the extent to which the introduction of the new recording Standard has impacted upon the recorded crime statistics in 2002/03 in order to provide a balanced interpretation of the real trends in crime in England and Wales.


METHODOLOGY


To assess the NCRS effect, and to gauge the underlying trends at a force and national level, a full evaluation was carried out in the course of the 2002/03 financial year. The Home Office collected and analysed data for certain offence categories of crime-related incidents, as well as police recorded crimes, for each police force in England and Wales, for the period from April 1999 (for those forces that could provide backdated data) to March 2003. This approach was agreed with ACPO and police forces through the National Crime Recording Steering Group, established and chaired by the Home Office Research Development and


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